As winter approaches, it’s time to talk about driving in snow safety precautions. Here are seven great winter driving safety tips.
Winter Accident Statistics
Every year, vehicle crashes due to snowy roads cause around 900 people to lose their lives. Additionally, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, unsafe driving in the wintertime has caused injuries to more than 75,000 Americans. In winter weather, the snow makes braking and stopping ten times more difficult for drivers.
The statistics and scenarios mentioned above are only some of the reasons why drivers should pay extra attention to the roads in the winter season. It is also essential to prepare your car for the wet, snowy, icy, and challenging driving conditions. Scheduling a car diagnostic testing is just the first step as there are several other essential aspects to consider when preparing to drive in wintry weather.
Ensure your safety while driving in the winter season by following these safety tips.
1. Pre-Winter, Pre-Drive Check
Before the winter season sets in, check out the overall condition of your vehicle. You can bring the car to your trusted mechanic, or you can do the checking yourself. Doing a pre-winter, pre-drive check helps determine if your vehicle is prepared for the rough winter driving.
Check your tires – are they worn out? Driving with worn tires is dangerous because it makes your car susceptible to sliding and slipping on wet, icy, and snowy roads. Replace your tires with winter or all-season tires for better traction. Winter tires also have soft rubbers that are good for slippery roads. Also, keep in mind that tire pressure goes down in cold weather.
Also, check your car’s brakes. Step on the brake pedal and if you hear even just a small squeaking sound, tell your mechanic about it. Ensuring that your brakes are in excellent condition will contribute to your safety while driving in wintry weather.
Check your car’s battery, wiper blades, and cooling system too, and consider educating your kids on how to do so as part of a car repair lesson. Make sure your gas tank is either full or half-full before you go out to drive.
To ensure that your vehicle check is complete, make a list of the things you need to do to ensure its proper maintenance.
2. Winter Driving Safety Tips include Cleaning Your Car
Make sure that your car isn’t covered in snow. Clean and clear snow from all areas or parts such as the windshield (and wipers), roof, windows, side mirrors, rearview camera lens (if you have one), and tailpipe.
Your taillights and headlights should likewise be cleared of snow. Cleaning these areas will help improve your visibility, which can be quite challenging when driving in winter weather.
Additionally, as in the case of your tailpipe, removing snow from your car will protect you from dangers such as carbon monoxide poisoning. If your tailpipe is covered with ice or snow, or any debris, it will be clogged, and carbon monoxide gas will ooze into the interiors of your car.
Also, bring an ice scraper with you and store it in the car, so you can easily pull it out when you need to use it. It’s also a good idea to have a snow brush and a windshield washer.
3. Prepare Your Cold Weather Gear
It’s not only your car that needs to prepare for the cold winter weather; you have to protect yourself (and your passengers), too.
These are the things you should keep inside your vehicle:
- First aid kit
- Extra-warm clothes
- Flashlight or flare
- Ice shovel
- Snow chains
- Mobile phone charger
- Kitty litter or sand (for traction purposes)
Also, always bring extra water and food. Choose those that are easy to stock and carry, such as trail mix, cookies in pouches, and energy bars. If you have elderly passengers, be sure to bring their medications every time you travel as one of the essential seniors winter safety tips.
Your car emergency kit and tools should also be easy to pull out when needed.
4. More Winter Driving Safety Tips: Plan & Stick to the Route
Days before your trip, do yourself a favor by checking weather forecasts and road conditions. Armed with the information you gathered, and using a map, plan your route.
Choose a safe one that does not lead you to snowed out areas, steep hills, or even roadblocks. Follow and stick to your plan. Do not divert to another direction just because you had an urge to do so.
A great general rule to keep in mind when driving, regardless of the weather, is to take the most direct route, provided it is safe to do so. This way you will use less gas and put less emissions into the air. To help reduce your transportation footprint further, consider vehicle technologies that combat harmful emissions.
5. Know the Basics of Driving in Snow Safety
Driving in snow safety challenges exist, and there are more of them on the road than on a regular sunny day. It is vital for you – and for every driver – to learn and apply the basics of driving in the snow.
The first thing you need to do is adjust your driving speed. That’s one of the top driving in snow safety tips. Snowed roads are slippery and wet, so you have to slow down. Dropping your speed is essential for traction control.
To avoid skidding – and traction problems, as well – slowly accelerate and decelerate, especially when there’s a stoplight in the area. Never hurry because slowing down and stopping takes longer when you’re driving in the snow, especially if the roads are wet and icy.
When going uphill, never apply extra gas as this will cause your car’s wheels to spin uncontrollably. Use inertia when going to the top, and then reduce your speed as you prepare to go downhill.
Be mindful of your brakes. Even if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, it is always wise to keep your foot near the pedal so it will be easy to apply pressure when needed.
Lastly, defensive driving is your best protection when driving in the snow.
6. Your Child’s Safety is Important
Ensure that your car has child safety features such as child-safety seats that come with seat belts. Having a thick jacket is also essential, but wearing one might make it difficult for your child to get into the child-safety seat so that you can use it as a blanket instead.
7. Winter Driving Safety Tips: Don’t Drive When You Don’t Need to
Finally, if your reason for going out is not that essential, stay home. Sometimes, even if you’re extra cautious and your car is more than ready for a snowy drive, accidents can still happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Your car’s safety depends on you and your dedication to following winter driving precautions. Likewise, make sure you regularly check and maintain the vehicle.
About the Author
Lauren Bricks is the Content Specialist for Streetfighter Motorsports LLC, a family-operated car audio and accessory installation, sales and customization facility located in Phoenix, Arizona. She loves cars and although she spends much of her week writing about them, she still finds the time to hop onto the second-hand Corvette convertible her dad gave her for her 25th birthday and drive to the countryside with the top down.