Winter Driving Safety Tips – Part 2

Winter often does provide a beautiful scenery in which to drive, however it is still important to be patient, cautious, and prepared while driving in the conditions that this season can bring on.  In this part, you will become informed about making long trips, skidding, actions to take when you’re stranded and driving in the right frame of mind.

How To Prepare For Long Trips

Here are some suggestions for minimizing the chance of a long winter trip becoming a tragedy:

  • check expected weather conditions
  • tune into local stations for information on road conditions
  • get a full-service tune up
  • let someone know where you are going and when you plan to arrive
  • stop often for resting and re-fueling
  • travel as much as possible in daylight
  • be familiar with your route before you begin driving (carry maps that include road routes)
  • be prepared for travel delays and be willing to pull over on the road or to stop at road shelters to wait out poor driving conditions

What To Do If You’re Stranded

  • do not panic, pull your car over as far off the road as possible
  • put on any additional clothing to keep warm
  • use a phone or radio to call for help
  • stay in your vehicle for health reasons (hypothermia and disorientation can occur rather quickly in blowing and drifting snow)
  • move your arms and legs to keep warm and improve your circulation
  • conserve your energy; do not over-exert yourself by trying to move your vehicle or shoveling snow out of the way
  • if your are in an area where there is regular traffic, attract help by putting on your flashers or raising your car’s hood

What to do if you start to skid

Most importantly… DO NOT PANIC! Your “instinctive” reactions are likely to do you more harm than good and make the situation more dangerous. Skidding occurs when there isn’t enough friction between the tire and the road. If your vehicle DOES NOT have anti-lock brakes, gently pump your brakes until the car slows and you are able to steer again. If you DO have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure until control is regained. Keep your eyes focused on the direction and distance in which your car is skidding towards.  For an example, if your rear end of car skids to the right, you do not want to turn your wheel sharply to the right.  Instead, you want to turn the wheel to the right JUST ENOUGH to straighten out the car.  This action should counteract the skidding,

Drive With A Winter Frame Of Mind

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.  If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your vehicle is prepared and that you know how to handle these types of road conditions.  It is understandable that winter driving can be frustrating, because in warm weather conditions driving is more manageable.  Increase your chances for safe travel by following these safety tips:

  • decrease your speed and leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you
  • be especially careful on bridges and overpasses, as they tend to ice before roads
  • keep your headlights on to increase visibility to other drivers
  • don’t start driving until your windows, windshield and lights are clean of snow, ice, frost, etc.
  • expect that travel in these conditions will take longer and leave early
  • clear snow from the top of your car so that it doesn’t fall onto your windshield and block your view of the road and other drivers
  • approach intersections slowly
  • break gently to avoid skidding
  • wash your car regularly including the undercarriage, to remove harsh chemicals and salts

Be sure to read Winter Driving – Part 1.