Driving Safety Tip for Winter Weather
The winter months can create several obstacles for drivers as they try to stay safe on the road. Snow, ice and freezing temperatures all work together to generate less-than-optimal conditions in which to navigate roads. Thankfully, you can take a few simple steps to reduce accidents and increase your chances of arriving safely to your destination. While some of these actions are directly tied to your vehicle and behavior while driving, such as increasing your visibility on the road, others are to be taken before you get behind the wheel in preparation for worst-case scenarios. Planning, prepping, and mindfulness can help you avoid minor inconveniences and may even save your life.
Tips for Driving in The Snow
- Increase your visibility for other drivers. When driving in winter conditions always turn on your headlights.
- When preparing to drive in the snow, adopt a defensive driving mindset; alertness and attentiveness are both critically important.
- Slow down. Since it can take time to safely navigate through snow and ice, leave early so that you can cautiously accelerate, decelerate, stop and turn. Gently step on the gas to gain traction and relieve pressure from the pedal to avoid skidding. Make all of your vehicle’s maneuvers as smooth as possible.
- Put more space between your car and other vehicles. Think about the amount of space that’s between your car and the closest vehicle on the road during optimum conditions. Generally, you should aim to multiply this space by at least three times when the roads are icy or snowy.
- Utilize threshold braking. Place the ball of your foot on the car’s floor, firmly push down, and steadily ease into a stop. Should your brakes exhibit signs of locking, reduce the pressure your foot is putting on the brake. Avoid pumping anti-lock brakes.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Check further ahead than you normally do for traffic and keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians. Know that you may have to regularly survey your surroundings, as conditions during winter weather can obfuscate your view. Slow down if you approach a maintenance vehicle or snow plow on the road.
Tips for Keeping your Car Winter Ready
- Remove snow and ice from all parts of your car, including the windows, windshield wipers, signal lights, headlights and brake lights before driving your vehicle. Use an ice scraper and snow brush to make the task easier and faster.
- Check the functionality of all vehicle components. Ensure that your tires are in good working order with adequate pressure and threading of at least 1/16″ for traction. Inspect hoses, belts, radiator coolant levels, lights, and windshield wipers for functionality. Get a tune up and, if possible, consider upgrading your car’s components to work in the snow – buy snow tires and purchase freeze-resistant cleaning solution for your windshield washer reservoir.
- Refer to your car’s manual for special instructions on how to keep your car in top shape for winter weather. Some vehicles, for example, can require a lighter grade of oil so that the car’s internal mechanics can operate optimally.
- Always keep your gas tank at least halfway full. This will help reduce the chances that your tank and fuel lines will freeze and accumulate ice. Refer to your maintenance schedule to determine if you should change your fuel filter, as an old fuel filter may collect water that can freeze and negatively affect your engine.
- Prepare a winter survival kit for your car, in case it stalls and you become stranded on the road. Place a flashlight or lantern, a tire repair kit, batteries, jumper cables, emergency flares, and a shovel in your kit. Consider adding window washer fluid, windshield wiper blades, a steel shovel, an ice scraper, a snow brush, first aid kit and extra medications into it. Pack a cell phone charger, blankets, warm winter clothing, snow boots, mittens, hats, nonperishable food and bottled water for an emergency overnight stay. You can also pack kitty litter to put under your tires when you need to gain traction on icy roads and salt to help melt snow in a pinch.
- Bowdoin’s Winter Car Tips
- Drive Safely During the Winter Season (PDF)
- How to Drive Safely on Icy Roads
- Tips for Winter Drivers
- The Trumpet’s Advice for Winter Drivers
- Prepare Yourself to Drive in the Snow
- Master the Road in Snow and Ice (PDF)
- Winter Safety Tips for Rural Residents (PDF)
- How to Drive in the Snow Without Four-Wheel Drive
- Highlights From the USDA Forest Service: How to Drive During Winter
- Stay in Control When Behind the Wheel During Winter
- How to Drive Through a Winter Wonderland
- Build a Winter Car Kit
- How to Make a Winter Survival Kit
- Items to Keep in Your Car to Survive Winter Storms
- Create an Emergency Kit for Your Car
- Winterizing Your Vehicle (PDF)
- Automotive Care for Vehicles in Cold Temperatures
- Six Tips to Winterize Your Vehicle
- Protect Yourself and Winterize Your Car
- Winterize Your Vehicle Before the Holidays
- Simple Steps to Winterize Your Vehicle (PDF)
- Are You and Your Car Ready for Ice and Snow?
- Prepare Your Car for Winter
- Winter Safety Tips for Vehicles (PDF)