Driving is a very habitual practice, and many of us get into a routine with our driving technique. This can make the idea of traveling to a place with harsh weather seem daunting. While driving on unfamiliar roads can be intimidating in and of itself, a fresh layer of snow on top may just be enough to keep you in your hotel room for the duration of your trip.
Don’t let intimidating wintery roads keep you from enjoying your trip. Driving in the winter can be done safely and confidently by taking a few extra precautions and paying extra attention. Follow these winter driving tips to make sure you’re prepared to drive to your travel destination.
Have your car serviced
It’s important that you get your car checked out to make sure it’s prepared to handle rougher conditions than it’s used to. Even the most experienced driver would struggle driving on ice with bald tires.
In addition to your tires, a few things to have checked out on your car include:
- wiper blades and wiper fluid
- cooling system
Acquire necessary supplies
Despite your car’s condition, winter driving is still hard on a car, and accidents can happen. The weather is not always predictable, and you could find yourself in heavier snow than you planned for. It’s important to be prepared in case you get stuck or experience some other mishap.
You probably haven’t considered keeping some of these supplies around for warm weather driving, but as you venture into colder climates, some helpful supplies that can get you out of a bind include:
- snowbrush and ice scraper
- booster cables
- extra blankets
- extra windshield wiper fluid
- shovel/sand for traction
- fully-charged cell phone or emergency phone
Practice safe driving
Winter driving requires some skills and knowledge that aren’t commonly used in fair weather driving. For example, the speed limit signs are recommended for driving on dry pavement, so in inclement weather, go slower than the posted speed.
Give yourself extra time to stop when you approach a stoplight or stop sign, and give the car ahead of you plenty of extra space to avoid sliding into them.
Do not use the cruise control in icy conditions. Even if the roads appear to be dry, black ice is often not noticeable until you’re already sliding on it. Stay in control of your speed the entire time.
Stay behind a snow plow if you approach one. Even if it’s going significantly slower than you deem necessary, realize that the conditions in front of the plow are much worse than behind. Similarly, the plow may not see you, and attempting to pass a snow plow can be hazardous. To be safest, stay a good distance behind the snow plow and allow it to clear the path for you.
What to do in case of an emergency
Unfortunately, not all accidents can be avoided. Emergency situations happen, but with a little preparation you can be ready for anything that comes your way.
Call 9-1-1 and calmly give all of the information asked of you. Because heavy snow inhibits visibility and can cover your tracks, stay in your car until help comes to you. Getting lost in a snow storm can be fatal.
Crack your windows slightly to keep fresh air circulating in your car. Snow can clog your exhaust system and cause carbon monoxide to accumulate in the car. Try to run the car intermittently for heat, but don’t keep it on for too long.