For many part of the country, winter can mean severe weather conditions. And that means taking greater care and caution when you’re out on the roads. Here’s an annual look for some winter driving tips.
The first place to start is before you start your winter driving season (or if winter’s already arrived, right now). So everything you’d normally get checked periodically, make sure it’s checked for winter. That includes:
- Your battery (battery power drops when the temperature drops).
- Your antifreeze and de-icer for windshield washer fluid (to make sure they stay fluids).
- Your wipers (otherwise that washer fluid isn’t much good).
- And your tires (tire pressure goes down when the air is cold). Speaking of tires, if you live in a place with winter snow and ice, we have two words: snow tires.
Then before you start every winter driving trip:
- Check your cameras and LIDARs (if your car has them), lights and mirrors (your car BETTER have those), and clean off any snow or ice or dirt that might keep you (and your car) from seeing what’s out there.
- Knock the snow, etc. off the rest of your car too (you might be able to see out, but snow sliding off your car might land on someone’s windshield and then THEY can’t see).
- Try to keep your gas tank at least half full (that helps keep the gas line from freezing, and keeps you better prepared for any unexpected problems on the road).
Once you are on the road:
- Leave a little extra room in front, add anywhere from five seconds to ten seconds (depending on who you ask) in following.
- Skip the cruise control, you want to be in control so you can react more quickly if the car starts to skid (and cruise control can actually make a skid worse).
- If your car does start sliding, steer in that direction. It makes it easier to get control back when your wheels regain traction.
- And just in general, go slow(er).
And some winter weather items you might want to take along:
- Along with the usual “in case of an emergency” gear, add an ice scraper and a blanket or two.
- If you’re driving into serious snow, you might need chains for your tires, and a snow shovel (for the snow).
- And throw a sack or two of kitty litter in the trunk (not in case you run into a cat that’s gotta go). This is if you get stuck and can’t go, kitty litter under the wheels can give you the traction to get out. Sand works too. At least for the tires.
Oh, and don’t leave the dog in the car in the winter (or summer either)!
And thanks to our friends at AAA and the National Safety Council for the tips.