There is nothing more nerve-wracking than driving in snow and particularly on ice. Following some tips for driving safely in winter will help keep your nerves from getting frayed.
Coolant – Get your vehicle ready for winter. If you haven’t changed your antifreeze in the past few years, have the coolant system flushed and put in fresh antifreeze. Remember, the coolant has to be a 50-50 mix with water.
Battery and wipers – Your battery is on borrowed time if it’s five years old or more. Replace it. Check your wipers and replace them if they streak or skip across the windshield. Always keep the windshield washer reservoir filled.
Tires and gas – Make sure your tires are set at the proper inflation levels. The inflation rate is typically on a placard attached to the driver’s door jamb. Always keep your gas tank at least half filled during the winter months.
Emergency kit – It’s a good idea to have an emergency kit in your vehicle. This should include an ice scraper/brush, jumper cables, a shovel, sand, a blanket, flares, battery-powered compressor and a flashlight. Watch weather reports and plan to allow extra time when snow arrives.
Driving in Snow
Slow and steady – If you must drive during a snowfall, take it slow. Avoid quick starts, accelerations and stops. Keep a steady, slow pace. Also, avoid quick turns. Remember, speed limits are for dry roads – not icy or snow-covered ones.
Stay back – Make sure you have plenty of room behind the vehicle you are following. If the vehicle in front of you suddenly stops, you will need extra room to slow down and stop on a snow-covered road.
No high beams – When driving in snow at night, do not use high beams as they will reflect off the falling snow and reduce visibility. Use fog lights and the regular headlights.
Skidding – If you start to skid or slide, take your foot off the accelerator and do not brake. Steer slowly into the skid and you will straighten out. If possible, avoid stopping on an icy or snow-covered road. Also, do not use cruise control on a slippery road.
Slippery hills – If you going up a, incline or hill, try to get some momentum before going up. Avoid stopping on a slippery hill. If you’re going downhill, take it slow but steady.
Bridges – Be extra careful when driving on a bridge or overpass. These typically freeze up quickly.
What to do when stuck in snow
Get off the road – If you get stuck or break down in snow, try to get your vehicle off the road in a safe spot. Put on your hazard lights and stay with the vehicle.
Keep warm – To keep warm, run the engine for ten minutes at a time with the heat set on high. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow to avoid carbon monoxide buildup. It’s a good idea to crack open a window while the car is idling should carbon monoxide filter inside.
Keep in mind these tips for driving safely in winter. Spring is around the corner!