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15 Tips for Safer Winter Driving

Winter driving safety

Winter driving can sometimes be a daunting task, especially when conditions are stormy, snowy or icy. If road conditions are dangerous, consider making alternate travel arrangements or postponing your trip until conditions improve. But if you have to be out in the road during inclement weather, f
ollow these 15 winter driving safety tips from our region’s disaster management expert, Jay Ferens.

 Tip 1: Make sure that your vehicle is prepared for winter driving
Winter tires are a good option, as they will provide greater traction under snowy or icy conditions. Keep a snow brush/scraper in your car, along with possible emergency items such as a lightweight shovel, battery jumper cables, and a flashlight.

 Tip 2: Drive smoothly and slowly
Don’t make any abrupt turns or stops when driving. Doing so will often cause your vehicle to lose control and skid.  Driving too quickly is the main cause of winter collisions. Be sure to drive slowly and carefully on snow and ice covered roads.

Tip 3: Don’t tailgate
The risks of tailgating become much worse in winter weather. Stopping takes much longer on snowy and icy roads than on dry pavement, so be sure to leave enough room between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Tip 4: Required Equipment in your Vehicle
 You should always carry the following items in your vehicle during the winter months:

o shovel
o sand or kitty litter
o traction mats
o tow chain
o cloth or roll of paper towels
o warning light or road flares
o fire extinguisher
o extra windshield washer fluid
o fuel line antifreeze

Tip 5: Learn how to control skids
 When skidding, you actually need to go against your natural instincts and turn into the skid and accelerate. Doing so transfers your vehicle’s weight from the front to the rear and often helps vehicles to regain control.

Tip 6: Lights On
Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists. Ensure your tail lights are on as the tail lights on several vehicles do not come on automatically.

Tip 7: No Cruise Control
Never use cruise control if conditions are snowy, icy, or wet, because if your car hydroplanes, your car will try to accelerate and you may lose control of your vehicle.

Tip 8: Don’t “pump” the brakes
If your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), do not “pump” the brakes. Apply constant pressure and let the system do its work. Remember that ABS brakes do not reduce your stopping distance. They are designed to provide you with the ability to turn your front wheels with brakes applied thus providing you with the ability to avoid a collision when your brakes are applied.

Tip 9: Pay attention
Maneuvers are more difficult to make in the snow. Be sure to anticipate what your next move is going to be to give yourself lots of room for turns and stopping.

Tip 10: Remove Ice & Snow from Your Vehicle Before Travelling
Clear ice and snow from your windows (front, back & side), side mirrors, headlights and tail lights before travelling. Large chunks of snow and ice left on a vehicle can become deadly projectiles when driving at highway speeds. This innocent-seeming debris is known to cause significant and costly damage to other vehicles and potentially fatal injuries to motorists and their passengers.

Tip 11: Travel with a Fully Charged Cell Phone
Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged before you leave on a trip. Purchase a car charger unit so that you can charge your phone as needed.

Tip 12: Stay with Your Vehicle if You get Stuck in the Snow
Do not venture away from your vehicle. Your best bet is to remain with your vehicle. Ensure that you keep the exhaust free of any obstructions. You may have to clear the exhaust pipe occasionally.

Tip 13: Pack an Emergency Kit
Pack an emergency kit that consists of booster cables, warm blankets, gloves, warm footwear, high energy bars or snacks, compass, matches and a "survival" candle in a deep can (to warm hands, heat a drink or use as an emergency light).

Tip 14: Top up Your Gas Tank Before You Travel
Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged before you leave on a trip. Purchase a car charger unit so that you can charge your phone as needed.

Tip 15: Plan Your Trip
Check road and weather conditions before you leave. Always, let someone know where you are going and when you will be there, especially when traveling long distances.

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