Winter driving can be hazardous and scary, especially in areas that get a lot of snow and ice. Additional preparations can help make a trip safer, or help motorists deal with an emergency. If you think you may be heading into snow or bad winter weather remember the three P’s of Safe Winter Driving - PREPARE for the trip; PROTECT yourself; and PREVENT crashes.
PREPARE FOR THE TRIP!
- Avoid driving when you’re fatigued. Get the proper amount of rest before taking on winter driving.
- Slowdown in snow and icy conditions! Make turns slowly, and make all starts slowly and smoothly. Remember that bridges and overpasses may freeze before the regular travel lanes of a roadway. Watch out for black ice! This is areas of the roadway that appear black and shiny and where your vehicle can suddenly lose traction. Slowdown in these areas and keep your foot off the brakes.
- Plan your route. Allow plenty of travel time (check the weather and leave early if necessary), be familiar with the directions, and let others know your route and arrival time.
- Maintain your vehicle. Check the battery, tire tread/pressure, and windshield wipers; keep your windows clear, put no-freeze washer fluid in the reservoir, and check your antifreeze level.
- Have key items on-hand! A flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, kitty litter, even floor mats), shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, warning devices (like flares) and blankets should be packed in your vehicle. For long trips, add food and water and medication…and make sure that your cell phone has a full charge.
- Stopped or stalled? Stay in your car, don’t overexert, put bright markers on your antenna or windows, and shine your dome light. If you run your car, clear the exhaust pipe first and run it just enough to stay warm.
- Buckle up and use child safety seats properly.
- Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an air bag.
- Children 12 and under are much safer in the back seat.
- Slow down and increase your distance between vehicles.
- Keep your eyes open for pedestrians in the road.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on slippery surfaces.
- If you are planning to drink, designate a sober driver.
- Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.
Following these simple tips can help you keep yourself and fellow traveling companions safer this winter.