Top 7 tips for safe winter driving

Are you ready for the winter? You might have pulled your winter clothes out of storage and dug out your snow shovels, but that doesn’t mean you’re fully ready for the icy season. You need to prepare yourself for the challenges of driving in the winter.

1. Prepare Your Vehicle

The best way to ensure your safety on the roads this winter is to prepare your vehicle. Before the harsh weather arrives, give your vehicle a thorough check.

Make sure your battery has no corrosion. If you’re out on a wintery day and your battery dies, you could be in trouble.

Another important consideration is your tires. When you drive on snow and ice, your tires are hard at work keeping you safe by providing traction. Make sure you have enough tread on your tires. Be sure to check the tire pressure as well. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to identify the ideal tire pressure and keep your tires at that level.

Even your lights should get a thorough checkup. With the help of another individual, check your low beams, high beams, brake lights, and signals. If one of your lights is out, you could be invisible to other cars on the road.

Don't forget check your defrosters and your wipers. If you encounter freezing conditions, you'll be relying on these tools to keep your visibility high.

2. Know How to Handle an Emergency

One of the best ways to keep safe while driving in the winter is to prepare for emergencies. For starters, avoid overcompensating in icy conditions. If you start to lose control on the ice, don’t turn hard in the opposite direction. Instead, try to gently regain control with subtle movements.

If you do find yourself stranded on the side of the road, stay with your vehicle. Walking too far in the cold is a health risk. If possible, place bright markers on your windows and antenna. You should also keep your inside lights on. By doing so, you make it easier for other drivers to see you.

You should avoid keeping your vehicle running in an enclosed space, like a garage. When it runs, the car emits carbon monoxide. This odourless but deadly gas builds up in enclosed spaces and causes health issues or death.

3. Be Alert

It’s always important to be an alert driver. However, in the winter, it’s critical. If you take your eyes off the road for a second, you could find yourself in an accident.

Avoid texting while you drive. If talking on the phone is a distraction, even with a hands-free device, you should avoid that as well. Keep music low and keep your eyes on the road.

When you drive in the winter, pay attention to the posted speed limit. Although you should always stick to the speed limit, you should be more cautious in the winter. Go slower than the posted limit in bad conditions.

Even in decent weather conditions, driving under the influence is extremely dangerous. Alcohol and drugs slow your reflexes and prevents you from making good decisions. Be sure to stay sober if you plan on driving. Use a designated driver or rely on a taxi or rideshare service to make your way home.

4. Drive Carefully Around Snow Plows

Snow plows are out to make the road safer. Unfortunately, they also become road hazards as they move the snow. When you see a snow plow on the road, you should follow a few safety precautions.

Avoid driving next to a snow plow or driving too close to one. They tend to stop frequently and make wide turns. If you’re not prepared for them to stop or turn, you could lose control of your vehicle. The clouds of snow that the plows produce tend to make driving difficult.

If possible, drive and stay behind a snow plow. The freshly plowed road is a safe place for your vehicle. As long as you keep your distance from the plow, you can limit the risk of an accident.

5. Use Anti-lock Brakes

Snow makes it difficult to control and stop your vehicle. If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, you can prevent your wheels from locking up as you brake. It can help you come to a rapid stop in icy and snowy conditions.

You should be aware that not every vehicle features anti-lock brakes. Before winter arrives, you should find out if your vehicle has them. If it doesn't, you should take other precautions. Learn the techniques for stopping quickly and safely without anti-lock brakes, including pumping your foot or easing slightly on the brakes if your wheels begin to lock up.

6. Don’t Drive in Severe Conditions

There are times when the road is simply not safe for drivers. One of the best tips on winter driving safety is to avoid driving entirely in extremely hazardous conditions.

Unless there’s an emergency that requires you to drive, wait out major storms. Eventually, the roads will clear and you can get where you need to go.

7. Plan Your Travels Well

In the winter, families tend to spend a lot of time in the car. To avoid a bad situation, you should plan your travels. Long trips require some diligence and careful planning.

Map out your route carefully. Even if you plan on using your GPS, you should know the route well. This prevents you from looking down at your phone and losing focus on the road.

Before you head out, check the status of the weather and the roads. You never know when a winter storm will come your way. By keeping an eye on the weather, you can prevent getting caught in a storm.

Part of planning your travels includes checking the status of your insurance policy. If an accident occurs, you need good insurance coverage. Before you drive in the winter, know the details of your insurance policy and stay current on your payments.

Finally, gas up your vehicle before you leave. Even if you have enough gas to get to your destination, you should fill your gas tank. If there’s a storm or traffic, You could end up on "E" before you know it. Keeping your tank full can prevent you from becoming stranded.

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