Winter Driving Safety Tips

Winter Driving Safety Tips

Safety Driving Tips for Winter Travel

Winter driving can go from “ok” to emergency in a heartbeat. Snow and ice can make roadways hazardous, but cold winter temperatures can create dangerous situations for a driver on clear roads too if one should get stranded due to an accident, breakdown or a simple flat tire. The best answer is to be prepared.

We offer the following winter driving safety tips to keep you and your passengers safe during winter travel.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Before temperatures drop, prepare your vehicle for winter. Road conditions and accidents may be beyond one’s control, but vehicle maintenance can go a long way to preventing problems and accidents on wintry roads. Here are specific ways to winterize your vehicle:

  • Check engine coolant
  • Check oil levels and make sure you have the best oil for your specific winter weather
  • Check steering fluid
  • Check transmission fluid
  • Check brakes
  • Replace tires if low tread, or replace with snow/winter tires in areas of extended cold temperatures and heavy ice and snow
  • Replace windshield wipers to guarantee they’ll clear your windshield completely
  • Always have enough gas, at least half a tank in your vehicle

Winter Driving Tips for Safety

It’s best to avoid driving in a winter storm, if possible. We understand that’s not always possible. And even plowed roads can still be covered in packed snow, ice and slush. If you do find yourself out in a storm or on snow and ice-covered roads, here are a few tips to remember:

  • Never use cruise control
  • Drive at the speed limit, or slower if you’re in a storm
  • Take turns slow and steady, and always avoid sharp turns
  • Avoid driving when tired; you’ll have a slower response time
  • Check road conditions and the weather forecast before getting behind the wheel
  • Always use your seatbelt
  • Take bridges slowly
  • Fully charge your phone before you leave home
  • Keep your headlights on at all times
  • Pull over and clear windshield wipers when they get covered with snow
  • Clean your car off completely if it’s covered with snow
  • Check your exhaust pipe to ensure it’s not filled or blocked
  • Follow AAA guidelines and increase follow distance to 8-10 seconds
  • Always have a Winter Emergency Survival Kit stowed in your vehicle for emergencies

Things You Need to Have in Your Car for Long Road Trips

Winter driving can turn even a short 10-mile drive into a long road trip. So, whether you’re going across the country for the holidays or around the block, make sure to have the following in your vehicle:

Winter Emergency Survival Kit Must Haves:

  • First aid kit
  • Warm emergency blanket, or two
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Water and snacks
  • Spare phone charger
  • Extra hat, gloves and sweater or coat
  • Jumper cables
  • Reflective triangles and/or flares
  • (2) Ice scrapers (in case one breaks)
  • Basic vehicle tool kit
  • Snow shovel

What to Do If Your Car Breaks Down in the Winter

Even if you’re well-prepared and had your vehicle winterized, a lot can happen due to cold and snow to cause a car to breakdown, encounter serious problems or become stranded. If this should happen, remember the #1 Rule: DON’T PANIC. Here are a few other winter driving safety tips to remember:

  • Call for help
  • If you’re on the highway, call 911. If you’re not in serious danger, call your state’s highway emergency assistance number
  • Don’t attempt to move your car out of snow by yourself
  • Set up reflective triangles at distances of 10, 100 and 200 feet
  • Light flares if appropriate, or to attract attention from first responders
  • If stuck, locate your Winter Emergency Survival Kit, referenced above, and wrap yourself in a blanket to stay warm
  • If necessary, run your engine for 10 minutes once an hour. Before doing so, make sure the tailpipe is not clogged or blocked as that could lead to a build-up of carbon monoxide gas in the car. Vent the windows while the car is running as a precaution.
  • NEVER leave your vehicle, unless it is in a dangerous place (i.e., the middle of the road.)
  • Always let others know your estimated time of arrival or return as well as your planned route

Traveling during the winter can be done safely, but it can be dangerous. Driving during a winter storm should be avoided and driving on wintry roads should always be done with caution. The above winter driving tips offer ways to make sure you and your passengers arrive safely when a trip must be made through snow and cold.

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