With fall well and truly upon us, it’s hard to miss the changes in the weather that have been creeping in. The leaves are changing and temperatures are dropping steadily, which means that winter is on it’s way in. For those who love cooler temperatures and snow, it’s a great time of year. However, it often means hazardous road conditions for anyone who has to hit the road. The last thing any of us wants is to spend the day stuck in a snowbank or stranded somewhere because our car fell prey to winter driving conditions. If you want to avoid accidents this winter, here are a few tips to keep in mind so you can avoid that call for an emergency tow.
Check Your Car Regularly
Often, some of the most common issues in terms of winter driving are things that could have been prevented with a bit of routine care. Before winter sets in (and throughout the season), be sure you take the time to check your tire pressure and keep them properly inflated. Winter is also the time you most need a good tread on your tires, so if those gripping channels are getting short, replace your tires before the snow starts falling. In addition, it’s a good idea to top off fluids and, if you have any slow leaks, get them checked out before dips below freezing make them worse. And, as a reminder, be sure to keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the winter to keep the lines from freezing.
Say No To Cruise Control
This advice isn’t necessarily winter-specific, though it does become a lot more important as soon as snow and ice stick to the roadways. When there is precipitation falling or collecting on the roads, cruise control stops being a benefit and becomes a pretty major hazard. If your tires lose traction for a moment—say, when your tires hit a patch of ice—your natural instinct should be to release your foot off the gas pedal until your car gains traction again. If you have cruise control, this doesn’t happen; instead, your car will think it needs to increase speed, and ultimately causes so many winter accidents.
Yes, your parents probably harped on your speed as a teenager, but they were definitely on to something. When it comes to driving on snow and ice, the best bet is to ensure your driving stays slow and smooth. This means no quick accelerations or decelerations; instead, you should gradually increase or decrease speed as much as possible and give yourself more time to stop. In addition, be sure to avoid jerking quickly into turns. This will help you keep traction and avoid skidding off the road or into another vehicle.
Be Prepared for Disaster
If you do have to go out in a storm, use all due caution. In a snowstorm, it’s actually more dangerous to leave your car if you get stuck, so be sure you’re prepared, just in case the worst happens. Pack a thick, warm blanket and flashlight in your car along with some water and non-perishable snacks. It’s not a bad idea to pack something like a power cell, so you can charge your phone without relying on your car battery. You’ll also want something brightly colored to attach to your antenna, to make your vehicle more easily visible. You can also keep a bag of cat litter or gravel and a shovel in your car, which will give you a makeshift way to create traction under your tires in case you get stuck. However, the caveat here is to only rely on this if you can do so without too much exertion.