Winter Driving Safety

Use Extra Caution on Snowy & Icy Roads

During the winter months, it’s smart to take some extra precautions on the road. School is in session, so you’ll have to watch out for school buses and students walking to school, especially during pre-dawn commutes and in the waning evening light. These winter driving safety tips will help you avoid trouble and promote safe winter driving:

  • Do everything at a slower pace — including braking, turning and changing speeds.
  • Keep plenty of distance between you and the other cars on the road, and give sufficient warning time when turning, stopping or changing lanes. It can take three to 10 times longer to stop on icy or snowy roads.
  • What looks like water on the roadway may actually be black ice. Proceed cautiously — black ice is an extra thin layer of ice that’s likely to form on bridges and overpasses, intersections and shady areas.
  • If you start to skid, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid.
  • If your car has antilock brakes (ABS), apply constant, firm pressure to the brake pedal. For vehicles without ABS, pump the brakes slowly and gently to avoid wheel lockup.
  • Always keep brake lights and headlights clear of ice and snow.
  • Always remove excess snow or ice from your vehicle.
  • Always keep window-washing fluid levels full during winter and keep extra fluid in your vehicle.

Items to Carry in Your Vehicle

There are certain necessary items you should carry with you when you drive in winter weather. These include:

  • Scraper: Carry a scraper with you, and make sure to clean your windshield off before driving. You should also carry de-icer fluid.
  • Sand: If you do get stuck in the snow, try throwing a little sand or cat box filler on top of the snow or ice to give you added traction if you get stuck.
  • Chains: If you do not have snow tires, carry chains with you for your vehicle and trailer tires.
  • Rags: Carry rags in your vehicle for the possibility of a malfunctioning defroster.

Pack a Car Emergency Kit

Winters in this part of the country can be severe and storms can develop suddenly. Before heading out on the road, make sure you’re prepared for an emergency in case your car becomes stranded. Creating a car emergency kit with the following items will help you be even better prepared for safe winter driving:

  • Inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Reflective triangles and vest
  • Cell phone charger
  • Bag of salt if your car becomes stuck
  • Tool kit
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Nonperishable high-energy food like nuts, dried fruit and hard candy
  • Extra pairs of socks, gloves, hats and blankets
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