The weather may be cold but your heart surely isn’t and the winter months are no reason to stop visiting friends and family. The problem, however, is that the harsh winter weather can make visiting friends and family a bit difficult, if not downright dangerous. So what are some things you can do to stay safe while traveling by car this winter?
10. GET A TUNE-UP
Get your car a tune-up during the fall months so that you’re already prepared for winter travel. Make sure you switch to all-season or winter-weight oil, check and/or replace your windshield wiper blades, have your battery checked, and check to make sure all of your fluids are at the proper level.
9. PACK EMERGENCY SUPPLIES
If you’re traveling in bad weather, or are traveling into an area that may experience bad weather, make sure you have a kit with emergency supplies on hand. Emergency supplies include, but are not limited to, a snow shovel, ice scraper with brush, tier chains, flashlights, jumper cables, flares, a flag to signal for help, a sleeping bag, first aid supplies, and some sort of high-energy snack food.
8. CHECK YOUR TIRES
Will you definitely be driving in a snowy area? The tread on your tires needs to be 6/32 of an inch deep for you to get safe traction in the snow. The average new tire has treads that are 10/32 of an inch. Make sure you’re your tires aren’t worn out before you embark on any journey and consider changing those summer or all-performance tires to something a little more appropriate.
7. USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS
Use your headlights whenever you are traveling in bad weather. In some states it’s law to use your headlights if it is raining, snowing, or if you are using your windshield wipers. Your lights make you more visible and will lessen the likelihood of others pulling out in front of you and causing a serious accident. Remember, just because you see them doesn’t mean they see you.
6. WARM UP YOUR VEHICLE
Letting a vehicle sit idle while turned on for an extended period of time can be harmful to the engine block. Let the engine idle just long enough to defrost your windows so that you can safely see where you are going and then hit the road. Driving a vehicle is the best way to ensure it is properly warmed up.
5.TAKE YOUR TIME
Take your time and drive slowly if you find yourself in bad weather. Maneuvering your vehicle will take longer on a snowy road than on a dry road, even if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. This includes stopping, accelerating, and turning – and if you’re going to fast you could slip or slide and cause an accident. Increase your normal following distance from 4 seconds up to as much as 8 or 10 seconds.
4. KNOW THE ROADS
Are you going to visit friends or family that you visit every year? If so, you should already be relatively familiar with the roads you’re going to travel. Make a mental note of which roads get iciest first, which bridges are worst in bad weather, and when or where you might encounter a nasty hill. Anticipate problems and try to avoid them.
3. DON’T DEPEND ON TECHNOLOGY
Your car having all-wheel drive or electronic safety features does not automatically mean you’ll be safe when driving in winter weather. All-wheel and four-wheel drive, for example, will help you to accelerate but won’t do anything for you when it comes to making an icy turn or slowing your car down. Use common sense and don’t let innovative technological features fool you into feeling safer than you are.
2. CARRY A CELL PHONE AND CHARGER
Make sure you have your cell phone with you while in the car. Note, that doesn’t mean you should be on it while you’re driving but that you should have it handy in case of emergencies. You may need it to call for help if you break down, get stuck in the snow, or have an accident. Don’t forget to pack a charger in case you are stuck for an extended period of time.
1. CLEAN YOUR CAR
Clean your car as often as possible while traveling in bad weather. This means cleaning off not just enough of the windshield to afford you a small amount of visibility, but cleaning off the entire windshield, hood, trunk, headlights, and top of your car. Remember, in some states it is illegal to drive your car with snow or ice on top. This is because melting ice tends to fly off in chunks and can cause serious injury – even death – to the drivers you hit.
Cold winter weather shouldn’t keep you cooped up in the house all season long but it should be cause for pause. Prepare yourself properly for a winter road trip and you’re guaranteed to make it from point A to point B safely.