Winter is officially here. While winter brings all the excitement of Christmas and family parties, it also means more time driving in winter conditions. More than 116,000 Americans are injured and over 1,300 are killed because of snow, ice, and slushy road conditions. It can be dangerous to drive in the winter and it often takes much longer to travel. Drivers must be more alert and prepared when they hit the road this time of year. In order for everyone to travel more safely this winter with snow and ice, here are 5 tips on how to travel safer this year.
Plan Extra Drive Time - There are several reasons for adding extra time for driving, one is that when road conditions are icy or slushy, you need to slow down. By slowing down, you will have more time to react if your vehicle starts to slide and you won’t have as much speed going if you lose control. With so many people traveling this time of year, traffic will increase, so plan extra time to account for the traffic and to insure that you can slow down and still reach your destination in time.
Completely Clear Off Your Windows - It can be tempting to just clear off the driver’s side of your windshield when scraping the snow and ice off, but this is incredibly dangerous for you and others on the road. If you don’t clear off all of your windows, then your vision will be inhibited and you could be blind to seeing bikers, pedestrians, or other vehicles. Plan time to completely scrape off your windows before leaving. To help speed up the process, you can turn on your vehicle and the defrosters before beginning to scrape off the snow and ice. This will cause the ice to melt, making it easier to scrape off.
Increase Your Following Distance - While driving in snowy conditions, increase your distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you. This can help you to avoid crashing into the vehicle in front of you, by giving you a greater amount of space, should your vehicle slide on ice or snow. It will also protect you in heavy traffic on icy roads as well.
Keep Your Car in Good Condition - The last thing you want in this cold weather is for your car to break down or to get a flat tire. Some things that you can look for to keep your vehicle running smoothly this winter are to:
Maintain proper air pressure in your tires - The cold weather can cause the air pressure in your tires to go down. Be sure to check your tires and keep the air pressure at the recommended pressure.
Check your tire tread - With the slick road conditions, it is important to have good tread on your tires this time of year. If your tread is wearing down, then it might be time to invest in some new tires.
Make sure your battery is in good shape - check your battery to ensure that it is performing well. Cold weather can be damaging to car batteries so regularly check your battery and give it the care it needs this winter.
Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Car - If something does happen while you are traveling this winter, then you want to be prepared to stay warm in case you have to wait for help in the cold. By keeping a blanket, first aid kit, food, water and any other supplies you may think that you need, you can be prepared to stay comfortable until help arrives. Take the time this winter to put together an emergency kit that fits your needs to keep in your car. This can include an extra pair of shoes (especially if you are a woman who wears heels on a regular basis), an extra sweater, hand warmers, medication, and whatever else you feel that you would need in an emergency.
Take the time this winter to be prepared for the icy road conditions and to talk to your family members about how they can also stay safe during their winter travels. If you have any questions about driving safe this winter, send us a message on our Contact Us page.