Winter Driving...Are You Prepared?

Winter Driving...Are You Prepared?

As the old saying goes, “No two snowflakes are alike”. The same can be said about drivers on the roadways in your city or town. Each driver brings a different degree of experience, comfort level behind the wheel and commitment to driving safely.

These factors are important to remember especially during the winter driving season. And, if predictions are correct we could be in for another long, cold, white and slippery winter.

Taking time to prepare your car, yourself and your passengers prior to driving in adverse weather conditions can give you added confidence on the road and comfort in knowing that you are prepared should an emergency occur.

In addition to listening to forecasts on the radio, TV, cable weather channel, or forecasts in the daily paper, The National Safety Council recommends the following measures be taken prior to your next winter weather driving experience.

Your Car

Prepare your car for winter. Start with a checkup that includes:

  • Checking the ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and fan belts.
  • Changing and adjusting the spark plugs.
  • Checking the air, fuel and emission filters, and the PCV valve.
  • Inspecting the distributor.
  • Checking the battery.
  • Checking the tires for air, sidewall wear and tread depth.
  • Checking antifreeze level and the freeze line.

Your car should have a tune-up (check the owner's manual for the recommended interval) to ensure better gas mileage, quicker starts and faster response on pick-up and passing power.

Necessary Equipment

An emergency situation on the road can arise at any time and you must be prepared. Following the tune-up, a full tank of gas, and fresh anti-freeze, your trunk should carry:

  • A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack
  • A shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow and tire chains
  • A bag of salt or cat litter
  • Tool kit

Essential Supplies

Be prepared with a "survival kit" that should always remain in the car. Replenish after use. Essential supplies include:

  • Working flashlight and extra batteries
  • Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Exterior windshield cleaner
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
  • Scissors and string/cord
  • Non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy

In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm, such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap, and blankets.

If You Become Stranded

  • Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, know the distance to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
  • To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
  • If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
  • To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
  • Keep at least one window open slightly as heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
  • Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

The only thing better than being prepared for an emergency situation, is being able to avoid one altogether. Taking a few extra minutes prior to your trip to ensure that your windshield washer reservoir is full and that all of the ice and snow is cleared off of all of the windows, headlights and rear lights on your vehicle will help increase your visibility of the road and other motorists. Increasing your following distance from the vehicle in front of you to at least a four second interval will allow you, and drivers behind you, more time and distance to stop safely if needed. Brushing up on the type of braking system installed in your vehicle can help you know how to react should your vehicle start to slide or skid.

Travel safely and think……spring is just around the corner.