Unless you move to a warmer climate, there’s not much you can do to avoid driving on the road during a Midwest winter. Deadlines don’t change because of the rain, snow or ice that threatens your life when you’re driving. All you can do is minimize your risk by recognizing winter hazards and know how to prepare yourself, your family, and your vehicle for winter. Below are basic tips to help you drive safe in winter conditions:
If you’re driving in…
- Snow & Ice
- Pay extra attention to road & warning signs that can prepare you for what’s ahead
- Accelerate slowly.
- Avoid sudden turns.
- Keep plenty of distance between the car in front of you.
- Poor Visibility
- Turn on your low-beam headlights or fog lights. Never use your bright lights. They only increase the glare and make visibility worse.
- If you need wipers, turn them on.
- Keep your radio off. You can sometimes hear the things you can’t see.
- Crack the window slightly and use the defroster to eliminate fog on the inside of your windshield.
- Use your windshield washer fluid before pulling onto the road because the smeared windshield can blind you for a few seconds.
- Be especially careful to reduce speed on curves.
- Always keep at least six seconds between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.
- Do not make sudden moves with your steering wheel, brakes or accelerator.
- Whenever possible, drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you.
- Avoid hydroplaning by keeping your speed low.
- Start to Skid
- DON’T PANIC! You can recover and straighten out by using these techniques:
- Do not use the brakes.
- Look ahead and steer in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go.
- As the vehicle starts to come out of the skid, straighten your wheels slowly.
- Use your brakes gently to stop the vehicle.
- Become Stranded
- Never leave your vehicle.
- Only run your heat for 10 minutes every hour to conserve fuel.
- Ensure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow to avoid poisonous fumes getting into your vehicle.
- Do not use your radio or lights. Conserve your battery.
- Stay awake. If you doze off, you are more likely to suffer from frostbite or hypothermia.
- Open a window every once in a while to let in fresh air.
- Access your car’s emergency kit.
Remember to take it slow and drive safe this winter!
Winter Car Maintenance & Kit
In addition to the basic safe driving habits we practice all year long – buckling up, driving alert and sober, and driving at a safe and legal speed – there are special precautions that need to be followed during the winter months.
- It’s important to make sure your car is ready for the season. Check your:
- Exhaust and cooling systems
- Windshield wipers and washers
- Keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the winter.
- Stock your car with basic winter driving equipment. This includes:
- Small shovel
- Jumper cables
- Bag of sand
- Keep an emergency survival kit in the car. It should include:
- Basic First Aid Kit
- Small candle with matches or a disposable lighter
- Metal bucket or coffee can
- Brightly colored square of cloth
- A large plastic garbage bag (can be used to insulate your body)