Any travel during winter months is risky. Storms come out of nowhere, roads become icy quickly and inexperienced drivers take unwise risks. Be prepared to stay safe on the road thanks to eight winter driving tips.
1. Check the forecast. In less than a minute, you can find out if you’ll be driving in fog, snow or ice. You can also discover which roads are blocked and if you need to find an alternative route to your destination.
2. Slow down. In snowy conditions, cut your speed in half to ensure you have adequate stopping distance. Don’t go so slow, though, that you lose momentum on grades.
3. Know skid recovery. Braking on slippery roads can cause your vehicle to slide instead of stop. If this happens, you need to know how to recover. Stay off the brake and steer your vehicle the way you want it to go.
4. Stay smooth at the controls. Pounding on the brake, shifting hard and even clenching the steering wheel make winter driving harder than it has to be. Instead, use smooth motions and relax as you drive.
5. Check your tires. Proper tire inflation and tread improve your vehicle’s traction and ability to stay on the wet or icy roads. Check the inflation of your snow tires frequently since cold weather decreases tire pressure, and make sure the tread is at least 1/8-inch. Carry snow chains, too, if necessary.
6. Know your vehicle. Every car and truck handles differently. Before heading out in winter weather, make sure you know how your vehicle handles. Know where the windshield wipers, defrost button and four-ways are, too.
7. Pack survival supplies. If you’re stranded or in an accident, you need a few supplies. Definitely store a snow shovel, sand or litter and lock de-icer in your vehicle. Consider packing a portable power source, flashlight, waterproof matches, tow rope, first aid kit, energy bars and blanket also. If you do get stranded, wait for help to arrive.
8. Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make you drowsy and reduce alertness. Drink water before you head out and carry a bottle or two with you so that you can stay alert.
Winter driving can be dangerous, but follow these eight tips to stay safe. Remember to check in with your auto insurance agent, too. Update your policy as you prepare for whatever winter throws at you on the road.