With fall coming to a close, and snow starting to fall in many states across the country, now is the perfect time to make sure you are ready for driving in adverse winter conditions. Winter can bring snow, rain, sleet, hail and any combination thereof, depending on which state you live in. Each type of weather brings its own challenge, but if you prepare your vehicle and yourself to drive in these conditions, you will be much safer, and less likely to be in an accident.
The first step to driving safely in the winter months is making sure your vehicle is equipped to handle the weather. Perform routine maintenance to make sure you are not stuck and do all of the following:
- Switch to an all season tire, and replace tires with worn tread. Having the proper tire will help you to grip the road better and stop quicker.
- Check fluid levels. Make sure your antifreeze, brake fluid and windshield wiper solutions are filled. Buy windshield wiper fluid designed for cold weather so that it does not freeze when you use it.
- Equip your car with safety items. Having a winter safety kit is essential. The kit should include blankets, road flares, first aid items, flashlight and batteries. These items will help keep you safe in the event you breakdown.
The next step to safe winter driving is making sure that you are prepared to drive in less than perfect road conditions. Follow these driving tips so are better prepared:
- Leave more distance. When following a car, leave a greater distance between you and the car in front of you. If the leading car suddenly slows down, the increased distance will allow you to maneuver more safely in slippery conditions.
- Know how your car handles. You may want to find an empty parking lot and practice driving in snowy weather. This will help you to get a feel for what your car does in a skid and how to best recover from it. There may also be some defensive driving courses available in your area. These courses will teach you skills needed to drive in all types of conditions.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. If you do these two actions quickly, you may cause your car to slide and become uncontrollable.
- Stay home! If conditions are just too bad, or you are uncomfortable driving, stay home. Sometimes the risks aren’t worth it.
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