Snowy Streets? How to Drive Safely During the Winter
In the middle of a freezing winter, you have enough to worry about without dealing with a car crash. When the roads get icy and the cars start sliding, how do you drive safely through the cold?
Although you can’t always avoid incidents while you drive in the winter, there are still several ways you can work to get yourself and your car home in one piece. Keep your car insurance premiums down and your passenger’s safe with these winter driving tips.
The first step to winter safety is a well-maintained car. You’ll make your way over snow and ice more easily if you properly prepare your vehicle.
Don’t even try to drive through snow with bald tires. Traction matters on slippery surfaces, and the less you have, the more likely your car will slide or even spin. A full set of snow tires for your car will help you navigate snowy streets. Alternatively, you can put snow tires on either the front or rear wheels of your car depending on if you have front- or rear-wheel drive.
If you opt to stick with all-season tires, make sure they are in good condition.
You can’t make it through a snowstorm if you can’t see. Check to make sure the blades on your wipers look good and properly clear the windshield with each swipe. You can replace wipers inexpensively, so you have no reason to risk your safety by driving with worn out blades.
Nothing will strand you faster than a dead battery. You don’t want to leave work after dark and in the cold only to find your car won’t start. Have a mechanic check your battery and make sure it’s ready to run for the winter.
You rely on your heater to warm you up in the cold as well as defrost your windows. Just like you shouldn’t drive with broken windshield wipers, you shouldn’t drive with fogged up windows. Maintain clear visibility with a fully-operational heater and defroster.
Once you have your car in good shape, you can focus on controlling your driving. While you can’t always account for icy patches and winter hazards, you can use several techniques to stay on the road.
Brake and Accelerate Slowly
Even if your car gets stuck in a snow drift, resist the urge to push hard on the gas pedal. When you both slow down and accelerate in the snow and ice, you should do so as gently as possible. Use inertia to carry you up hills and over slippery spots rather than your gas pedal.
You will also brake more effectively if you do so gently. If your car has a good anti-lock brake system, you don’t need to pump the brakes. However, you should still avoid slamming on them. This encourages skidding and sliding.
Steer with the Slide
If your car does slide, resist the urge to slam on the brakes, accelerate out of it, or jerk the steering wheel. Take your foot off the gas and brake pedals and gently turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go. If your rear wheels have lost traction, it can be helpful to steer in the direction your car is sliding so you can straighten out the vehicle.
Avoid Fast Stops
Stopping requires extra preparation on slippery roads. Leave lots of room between yourself and the car in front of you so you have adequate time to brake gently. You should also watch out for stoplights and stop signs, even when they’re still a ways down the road.
You need twice as much time and space to stop in the winter as you do during dry seasons.
Even with a good car and careful driving, accidents happen. In case you become stranded somewhere in freezing temperatures, or have a crash in a hard-to-reach location, keep your car stocked with emergency supplies.
Food & Water
You don’t have to pack enough food and water for weeks or even days. A few bottles of water and some non-perishable food items, such as protein bars, should prove sufficient in a pinch. If you plan on taking a trip through remote areas where you might get stuck, pack more food and water than usual.
You have to keep warm in the cold. Keep a couple blankets and some warm clothing, such as sweatshirts, in the trunk of your car. You should also keep sturdy shoes, such as boots, on hand.
If you take any prescription medications on a strict schedule, keep a small supply in your vehicle in case of emergency. However, you should check the label first to make sure the medication will remain stable in cold temperatures.
Driving during the winter doesn’t have to mean disaster. Prepare your car, use proper driving techniques, and keep emergency supplies on hand to help you get through the snowy roads safely.
For more information, be sure to check out our blogs or contact us at Eisenhauer Insurance.