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Tips to Improve Driving Safety in Winter

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Some people view the first snowfall as a magical experience, signifying the start of a wondrous winter and beautiful white wonderland. You, however, see it as the beginning of a long and stressful winter of getting up early to shovel, freezing in your car, getting stuck in snow, and avoiding car accidents. As the weather gets colder and snow and ice begin to plague the roadways, your anxiety increases with every snowflake that hits the ground.

The reason for your anxiety is simple—past experience. Last year, you spun out on four separate occasions, you were involved in two accidents and one night you spent two hours trying to get your car unstuck from a snowdrift. It’s safe to say that winter and you don’t mix. However, this year’s anxiety is immeasurably worse as your daughter recently got her license. So now you’re not only worrying about your driving, but hers as well.

How can you prepare her for the dangers of winter roads and winter drivers? What tools can you use to make sure she doesn’t get stuck on the side of the road? How can you make sure she can see traffic during a blizzard. How can you help keep your little girl safe?

Tricks to Help Fight Winter Driving Dangers 

Nearly 500,000 people a year are injured in car accidents that result from poor weather conditions, according to a Federal Highway Administration analysis of weather-related crashes. Winter weather, including snow, ice, slush and sleet can make driving conditions extremely dangerous, especially for those who aren’t used to it. Therefore, it is important to not only understand the risks involved while driving in such weather, but also how to stay safe and avoid potential accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration understands how difficult it is to adapt to winter hazards and keep your vehicle under control when the roads have other plans. This is why it has done extensive research into winter driving safety and suggests that you take the following precautions to protect against winter weather risks:

  • Check your car. Proper maintenance is important when driving year-round, but especially during cold winter months. Make sure your vehicle has a complete checkup, including topping off fluids, checking brakes and filling tires for proper air pressure
  • Clear off the snow. Before moving your car, clean snow, ice and debris from the windows, windshield, forward sensors, head lights and tail lights.
  • Plan a route. Make sure you’re aware of the route you’re taking before you go, even if you use a GPS system, and let others know your path and anticipated arrival time. This way if you get stuck or are in an accident they’ll know where to find you.
  • Drive slowly. It’s hard to control and stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface, so decrease your speed to increase your control.
  • Increase your following distance. Since your stopping distance is increased on slippery roads, you need to make sure you allow enough room between you and the car ahead of you to have enough time to adequately stop.
  • Know how to stop. If you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure. If you don’t have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently to come to a smooth stop.
  • Don’t brake too hard. If you find yourself in a skid or slide, ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. Keep your feet off the pedals until you can regain control and stop sliding. Braking will only cause the tires to skid more.
  • Stay calm. Losing control of your vehicle can be extremely scary, but losing control of yourself can make matters worse. Stay calm, breathe and try to remember these safety tips

Additional “hacks” and tricks to ward off winter troubles include:

  • Warding off foggy windshields. Cover the inside of your windshield with shaving cream and then wipe off (vinegar will also work). Keep silica packets or kitty litter inside the car to absorb excess moisture (kitty litter is helpful for traction as well if you get stuck). Before exiting your vehicle, open the window to allow dry winter air inside to decrease moisture.
  • De-Icing. Cover your wipers with old socks to prevent them from freezing to your windshield (added bonus: you can reuse the socks over your boots to provide added traction while walking in the snow). Place an old rug on the windshield itself to prevent icing (keep the rug in your truck for potential traction help).  Finally, covering your key with rubbing alcohol will aid in de-icing car locks.
  • Traction control. Keep a small shovel in your truck as well as sand/kitty litter, salt, and an old rug to aid you in digging yourself out of drifts and to provide extra traction for your tires. If the kitty litter/sand doesn’t work, try using a floor mat under the tire to ease the slipping. 

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Driving can be extremely stressful and dangerous no matter what time of year. However, knowing your seasonal risks and how to protect against them is something you can keep year-round. Help protect your friends and family by giving them the one essential tool they need to drive safely—knowledge.

You can use your social media connections to let your friends and loved ones know their risks, learn how to protect against hazards and stay safe during winter weather conditions. Show your support by sharing this page on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.

Do you have additional safety suggestions or concerns? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to like us on Facebook to start a Q and A with us and others like you.

 

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