Fall is in its prime here in Northeast Ohio. The leaves are at their peak colors and there’s a chill in the air, making cozying up next to a fire in the evenings a delightful reprieve. Unfortunately, we all know what comes after fall: winter, with its heavy snowfall, freezing winds and icy roads.
It’s time to prepare now for winter driving. Taking some extra precautions before heading out into the elements can help ensure you know how to get to all your destinations as safely as possible this winter season.
Safe Winter Driving Tips
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), 17% of all vehicle crashes occur during winter conditions. There’s no doubt that driving in a winter storm can be a scary situation for even the most seasoned drivers, especially in blizzards with very low visibility or on icy roads that make stopping challenging. By preparing early, you can play a role in preventing accidents and crashes caused by the winter weather.
Soon enough those fluffy white flakes will be flying, so here are a few winter driving tips to ensure you know how to be a safe, responsible driver no matter what Mother Nature throws at you this season.
Winter Driving Tip #1: Winterize Your Vehicle
Now is the time to schedule those maintenance tasks you’ve been putting off during the warmer weather. A few of the things you should check include:
- Tires and tire pressure
- Brakes and brake pads
- Hoses and belts
- Headlights and brake lights
- Windshield wipers and windshield fluid
- Heater and defroster
Additionally, make sure to clean off the camera lenses for your backup camera to ensure a clear view of what’s behind you. Always keep the gas tank at least half full, as you never know if you could end up stranded in a traffic jam due to an accident. If you use snow tires, now is the time to install them.
Winter Driving Tip #2: Prepare for Emergencies
Part of prepping your car for winter includes creating an emergency kit just in case your vehicle breaks down or you get caught in the elements. Keep a box in the trunk filled with items like blankets, a change of clothes, snow shovel, extra cell phone chargers, water bottles, jumper cables, flares, flashlights, etc.
Winter Driving Tip #3: Always Watch the Weather Report
Two words: plan ahead. If you know there’s a storm brewing and you have plans to drive across town, the best decision is to simply not risk going out. If possible, reschedule your plans. If it’s not possible to reschedule, for instance, if you have to drive to work, make sure you allow for plenty of time to get to your destination. Take time to learn about alternate routes that could be less dangerous to drive on in inclement weather.
Winter Driving Tip #4: Take it Slow
When driving on a snowy or icy road, remember to accelerate and decelerate slowly to regain traction and avoid skidding off into the berm. It takes longer to slow down on ice, so be ready as you’re approaching a red light or a stop sign. Use less pressure on the brake pedal to avoid sliding to a stop.
Winter Driving Tip #5: Learn How to Avoid a Crash
AAA has some very helpful winter driving recommendations for being a safe, confident driver in snowy or icy weather. For example, knowing how your brakes react and how to apply steady, firm pressure with the heel of your foot to stop slowly. Understand what you need to do if your route involves hills and how to navigate them safely. Also, remember to increase your following distance to seven to eight seconds to improve the margin of safety should you have to stop quickly and unexpectedly.
Winter Driver Training from DriveTeam
DriveTeam offers Winter Skills Driving Clinics for both teens and corporate drivers. These hands-on driving courses feature our SkidCar and SkidVan to allow drivers to learn skid avoidance and control, traction control, accident avoidance and bad weather braking techniques. Contact us today for more information.