Did you know that the leading cause of deaths during winter storms are transportation accidents? Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.
Before a winter storm, make sure you have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Flashing hazard lights
- Exhaust system
- Heater Brakes
- Oil level
You also want to make sure you tires have adequate tread. All weather tires are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some state jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs. You may also take note of a few of these helpful tips:
- Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal
- Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season
- Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person
- If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation
- Always dress warmly but wear layers of loose fitting, layered, lightweight clothing
- Store a supply of high energy “munchies” and several bottles of water
Another couple things you should keep in mind when traveling long distance in the winter months is to make sure you car is stocked with a few essential items that will help you in case a problem arises. Here are some suggestions:
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- Necessary medications
- Several blankets
- Sleeping bags
- Extra newspapers for insulation
- Plastic bags
- Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
- Rain gear and extra clothes
- Small shovel
- Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
- Booster cables
- Set of tire chains or traction mats
- Cards, games, and puzzles
- Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
- Canned fruit and nuts
- Non-electric can opener
- Bottled water
Stay safe and warm this winter!
Article Source: NJ State Police
You might not live in the middle of snow country, but it still is important to keep in mind that winter driving conditions can present more of a challenge. Here are some things to keep in mind as you head out into the open road.
- Speed Limits: Remember that these limits primarily refer to safe speeds during ideal weather conditions. Always slow down while driving on snow or ice. When driving uphill on ice, pick a path that will allow the most traction. Allow for greater stopping distances during snow and ice storms. In order to bring your car to a safe stop, you must allow 8-10 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Curves and Turns: To maintain better control of your vehicle, reduce speed just before the turn. Any sudden acceleration or deceleration during a turn will send you into a skid. Never brake while driving on ice. If you are approaching a patch of ice, brake during your approach. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will only throw you into a skid. Monitor vehicles in front of you and be sure to monitor the vehicles in front of you. Unpacked snow will give most vehicles sufficient uphill traction.
- Keep Your Distance: The most important thing to remember when driving on slick roads is that you must travel, steer, and brake more slowly than usual. The distance needed to stop on ice is twice as long as what you would need to brake under normal driving circumstances. This means you should keep at least a three-car distance from the vehicle directly in front of you. Remember that tires which are in proper working condition and are adequately inflated provide better transaction.
- Extra Slippery: Certain areas of roadways, because of location or track of direct sunlight, are almost always more hazardous than others. Use extra caution when driving on bridges, overpasses and tunnels. What is known as “black ice” commonly forms on roads that wind around lakes and rivers, in tunnels, on overpasses and in highly shaded, rural areas. Black ice is almost invisible to the naked eye. Be especially leery when driving your car into shaded areas, and slow your vehicle down during your approach.
- Handling Skids: The biggest problem facing most winter drivers is skidding on slick, icy or snow covered roads. It is possible to steer out of a skid! First of all do not panic. Once you feel your car begin to skid, slowly remove your foot off the gas until you feel your wheels regain traction control. Do not attempt to brake! As your vehicle’s tires grab the road, slowly turn the steering wheel in the direction you want your front wheels to go.
- Gimme a Brake: Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) offer significant advantages on slick roads, if used correctly. To operate ABS effectively, motorists should apply steady pressure to the brake pedal during the entire stop. ABS will automatically pump the brakes, if necessary, to keep the wheels from locking. Never manually pump ABS brakes yourself. Apply only steady pressure continuously until you come to a complete stop. If you don’t have ABS, you should gently apply pumping pressure to your brakes during slippery conditions. Do not apply steady pressure to your brakes. Standing on your brakes will only cause wheel lock, and may result in your car spinning out of control.
- Slow Motion: Everything you do on icy roads will affect how your vehicle handles the situation. Move slowly. Turn slowly. Brake slowly. Sudden changes can cause your car to spin our of control. Not all cars respond the same to icy, slippery roads. For that reason, knowing how to handle your vehicle and how it responds to various weather conditions is important. AAA recommends that motorists practice slow-speed maneuvers on an empty snow or ice covered parking lot. You should also page through your vehicle’s owner manual, familiarizing yourself with your vehicle’s braking system and tire traction.
“Remember, when driving in the ice and snow – TAKE IT SLOW!”
Article Source: CUDL AutoSMART Magazine
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