Winter is the worst time of year for driving. If you live in a region that gets a lot of snow or freezing rain, then you already know the drill. Road conditions can quickly go from fine to hazardous in hours, or even minutes. Over 100,000 people in the U.S. are hurt every year driving on snowy and icy roads. This is why it’s important to educate yourself about how to best handle these nasty changes in weather. Here are five tips for driving safer during winter.
The best way to lower your risk of a serious accident this winter is to slow down. Sometimes it can be hard to do this. Occasionally, surrounding drivers might make it more dangerous for you to drive at a safe speed. If this is the case, especially on the highway, you should just exit at the next opportunity. Speed and icy roads are a hellish combination. It’s only a matter of time before you end up in a collision. It’s also crucial to not accelerate too fast. Doing this will cause your wheels to spin, which will cause you to lose control. Gradually speed up from stop lights; and give yourself ample room to come to a stop.
Keep Key Items in Your Vehicle
There are certain items that can potentially be extremely useful in the winter. The season’s harsh conditions create a lot of hairy scenarios. Having the right tool on hand might get you out of an otherwise dire situation. These are a few of the best things to keep in your car:
- Shovel and Sand: If you get stuck, you’re going to have a tough time freeing your vehicle with your bare hands. A shovel and sand—or anything granular to help get traction—will help your cause.
- Insurance Card: You’re prone to accidents in wintertime. Make sure you have proof of insurance in your car. Even if you purchased online auto insurance, you need to have something to show in case of a crash.
- Warm Clothes: This includes blankets, extra coats, mittens, socks, and hats. You never know when you’ll be stranded during winter. If you’re in an isolated area, you might have to wait awhile for help. Extra clothes will be necessary to keep you warm while you wait for rescue.
- Jumper Cables: A battery that’s good in the summer won’t necessarily be reliable in winter. Jumper cables will ensure that you’ll be able to get home if your battery dies on you.
Don’t Let Gas Tank Get Too Low
No one likes filling up their gas tank. It’s expensive and takes a lot of time. Neglecting this, however, can have disastrous effects in the winter. During warmer months, you might let your gas tank get down to just about empty. If you do this in winter, you might end up freezing the gas line. Letting the tank get too low allows condensation to build up in the gas tank. If this is allowed to spread and freeze, your engine will be in trouble.
Know Your Vehicle
No two vehicles handle snow and ice the same way. SUVs with all-wheel drive tend to be some of the best at traversing slick roads. But having an AWD SUV doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immune from weather conditions. You should get used to the handling capabilities of your vehicle. By doing this, you won’t get yourself into dangerous situations.
Know When to Stay Home
There are some storms that are too bad for any driver or vehicle. Don’t push your luck by going out when you should really stay home. Of course, you can’t stay home every time there’s a snowfall. But you need to make judgement calls sometimes. You’re only putting yourself and other in danger by driving in weather that’s too harsh.
The winter can be beautiful. But it can also be deadly if you don’t respect the elements. Take care this year, and mind these five winter driving tips.