Safe Winter Driving

Winter and the precipitation it brings – snow, ice, sleet, hail and rain – causes hazardous driving conditions. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 25 percent of all accidents occur during adverse weather conditions. Even an experienced driver operating a vehicle that offers the best and newest safety features can quickly find themselves in an emergency situation. Properly maintaining your vehicle and preparing it for winter conditions helps prevent accidents. A supply kit may save a stranded driver’s life while waiting for help to arrive.

Preparing For The Trip

Sudden snow, sleet, ice or cloudy conditions can suddenly impair a driver’s visibility. Preparing a vehicle to handle sudden weather conditions prevents the likeliness of an accident due to poor visibility. Drivers must check their blinkers, brake and reverse lights often – at least once a week. Signal lights let other drivers know when vehicles are turning, braking or reversing, providing enough time for proper driver reaction. When the roads are slippery, adequate reaction time prevents accidents. Government and educational websites warn to keep vehicle gas tanks at least half full. The vehicle’s power provides warmth to motorists when stranded and power to charge a dead cell phone. Without fuel, the vehicle’s heater and battery power are useless.

Maintaining Your Car

Properly maintained vehicles are less likely to breakdown or cause accidents. Winter wiper blades are key to driver visibility during snow or icy conditions. These heavy-duty blades, when used with windshield wiper fluid, push heavy snow or ice out of the way and decrease smearing or smudging. To prevent tire wear, mechanics recommend rotating tires every 6,000 miles or every other oil change. Check the vehicle’s tire pressure weekly and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for pressure settings. Vehicle Owner’s Manuals provide tire pressure requirements for cold weather. Test the car’s battery before winter weather arrives and replace it if necessary. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule and repair your vehicle as suggested by a mechanic.

Protecting Yourself

Properly equipped vehicles and prepared drivers can better handle sudden issues caused by winter weather. Purchasing a set of snow tires for winter use provides extra safety, helping vehicles accelerate from a stop and helps with traction for uphill driving. Snow tires provide better traction in snow, sleet, rain and ice. These tires are designed with special cuts on each tread block, which increases traction by securing the tire’s grip on the road. Store the phone number of a local tow company in your cell phone, and make sure the phone is charged before leaving for a trip. Drive cautiously and pay attention to other drivers on the road to avoid collisions with out-of-control vehicles. Don’t drive during severe weather conditions unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Preventing Crashes

Drive cautiously when it’s snowing, sleeting, raining or when temperatures fall below freezing. Freezing temperatures create dangerous black ice. Abide by posted speed limits and travel slower if the weather requires it. To regain control of a vehicle during a skid, stay calm and steer into the skid – not in your intended direction. Steer the car in the intended direction only after regaining control of the vehicle. Gently pump the brakes to prevent locking the wheels, which causes a vehicle to skid further or spin out of control. The traction control feature, standard in most modern vehicles, decreases tire spin when the vehicle’s computer senses the tires are slipping. If you’re unable to accelerate from a stop while the traction control feature is active, turn it off to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Tires may need to spin to gain traction in snow. Once the vehicle accelerates, turn the traction control back on.

Supplies To Have On Hand

A winter supply kit provides warmth, food and safety to stranded drivers or those stuck in their vehicles. A tow strap is a necessity item in a driver’s supply kit. Salt or kitty litter and a shovel are necessary tools for digging out of snow or gaining traction on ice. A fully stocked first aid kit allows vehicle occupants to treat injuries until help arrives. A stock of sweaters, blankets, hats, gloves and extra socks provides warmth in freezing weather. Store flares and emergency flags in the car and use them to warn other motorists of your situation. Stock the vehicle with several matchbooks or lighters, an ice scraper for the windshield, a weather radio with extra batteries, water, snacks and a compass. Keep a full bottle of windshield wiper fluid in your vehicle in case you run out.

Prepare for Wintry Fun and Cold Instructions for preventing injury during winter weather, driving safely and preventing hypothermia, provided by the Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program of Loyola University.

Winter Driving Trips Tips for preparing a vehicle for winter conditions, survival kit suggestions and warnings for drivers.

Driving Tips In-depth information about preparing a vehicle for driving in winter and instructions on how to control a car in adverse weather.

Winter-Driving Tips Snow tire information and a brief outline covering winter driving tips and warnings.

Winter Tires An explanation of differences between tire types, tire test results and the use of studded tires.

Four Wheel Drive Vs. Two Wheel Drive A description of the differences between all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and 4X4 vehicles.

Safe Winter Driving: Avoiding the Skids Instruction about how to choose the right snow tire and how to handle winter driving problems, such as wheel spin or becoming stuck in the snow.

This article is a resource created by Cheap Car Insurance meant to educate consumers about proper winter driving. Sharing is permissible. Please contact us if you have any questions. Get a car insurance quote in your area.

Please provide a valid zip code.