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Safe Winter Driving Tips
Winter is a potentially dangerous time for drivers. Driving during the winter months can be hazardous due to slippery roads, snow, storms, freezing rain, poor visibility and other adverse winter conditions. Indeed, winter weather can present a whole new set of challenges for drivers. Sometimes, the best advice is to avoid driving in really bad winter weather altogether.
If you are an experienced driver, and there is no way to delay or cancel your trip, make sure you take all the necessary precautions before you drive. It is very important to be aware of winter driving safety tips and strategies, which will help to prevent accidents and keep your Auto Insurance rates from rising due to an at-fault accident.
Make your winter driving safe, minimize the potential cold weather hazards and keep your Auto Insurance rates as low as you can in winter months by using the following guidelines.
The truth is that in winter the safety strategies go beyond driving at a safe and legal speed, and buckling up. When the snow is blowing and temperatures are freezing, you will need to prepare specifically for driving under such conditions.
First of all, it is essential to have a mechanic check of your vehicle’s battery, brakes, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, oil, the heating and exhaust systems to make sure that your car is in good working condition. You are highly recommended to install snow tires or all-weather radials in winter. Keeping your gas tank full during the winter months will help prevent damage from freezing, and you won’t run out of gas if you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam in cold weather.
It is always worth it to be prepared for an emergency. Consider what you will need in case you are in trouble on winter roads: shovel, blankets, flares, a sack of sand for traction, windshield scraper and brush, tool kit, towrope, booster cables and a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, dry and warm clothing, gloves, waterproof matches and candle etc. should be stocked in your trunk. A good emergency kit for winter weather should also include ice scraper, extra wiper fluid, reflective triangles, jumper cables, inflated spare tire, water, and some food (dried fruit, nuts, protein bars). Make sure you can contact help in case of an emergency.
Always check the road conditions before you set out for a trip. Watch the news, listen to the radio or phone someone who knows about road conditions. As it has already been mentioned, sometimes winter driving should be avoided, especially if it is a long-distance trip, and the weather is dropping below freezing, or a storm is approaching. It is a good idea to wait until snowplows have cleared the roads and highways for your safety before you go.
- Start your trip a little earlier and reduce your speed. Rushing on icy or snowy roads is very dangerous. With your traction reduced, the speed should be reduced as well. Four-wheel or all-wheel drive car owners may have some advantage over two-wheel drive vehicles in maneuvering in the snow but should still set their speed under the safe limit.
- Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you by adding a second for each condition you consider dangerous, such as snow, poor visibility etc. You will need extra time to stop. For example, under ordinary conditions the following distance should be three seconds, and if you are driving at night and it is snowing, you should add two more seconds for following distance.
- Be much more careful while braking, because otherwise pressure on the brakes can cause you skidding. Even in slippery conditions it is possible to have a good braking and steering control by gently pumping the brakes and maintaining constant pressure.
- In snow, try to stay in the ruts as your tires are better able to gain traction when driving in the tracks made by tire traffic. Be very careful when approaching areas of black ice: get off the gas immediately. Black ice is commonly found on roads that are near water, overpasses and bridges.
- When the road conditions are dangerous, it is vital to first check the traction at low speed. Seemingly dry road can be very unreliable in winter due to ice crystals in the pavement.
- It goes without saying that you should wear your seatbelt and use your low beam lights even in the daytime in winter, especially if you are driving a light-colored vehicle.
- If you do lose traction and the back-end of your car starts to slide, don’t worsen the skid by braking. Instead, you should immediately get off the gas and do not brake. You should turn the steering wheel in small increments in the same direction that you want the front end to go.
- Front car tires tend to skid when leaving a stoplight. You should touch the accelerator now and then to allow the tires to regain traction. If front car tires skid while moving, let off the accelerator immediately and shift the car into neutral without trying to steer. Then steer in the direction of the skid and put the car into drive, tapping the gas slowly.
If you are stuck, then your emergency kit becomes very helpful. Try to shovel the snow from under and around your tires. If someone can help, rock the car while lightly accelerating. In case you are alone, pour the sand in the tire’s path and feather the gas, allowing the vehicle to gain traction. If you are very seriously stuck and can do nothing on your own, then stay in the car and wait for help. It is very important to run the engine and heater sparingly and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow and ventilate your car well. And again, think twice before starting your engine in severe winter weather.