Winter is just around the corner. For many people across the country, that means the weather outside will soon be frightful! Snow, wind, and ice can cause a lot of problems on the road. But, the world keeps going, even in the winter. People still have to get to work, run errands, and get from point A to point B.
If you’re driving in the winter, knowing how to keep yourself (and your vehicle) safe is important. Doing so will make it easier for you to get through the season without worry.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be difficult to keep your car in good shape and practice a few positive driving habits that can make a big difference. It starts with preparing yourself and your vehicle for the worst, with the hopes that ‘the worst’ never happens. Once you’re prepared, you can focus on driving safely and adjusting to road conditions, as needed.
Let’s take a look at some effective winter automotive tips you can start using this season, so you can feel more confident in driving, no matter the conditions.
Keeping Your Car in Shape
Keeping your car tuned up and well maintained throughout the year is always a good idea. But, it’s even more important in the winter to make sure it’s in top working condition before you hit the road. Regular maintenance efforts on your car should include:
- Checking/rotating tires
- Changing oil
- Checking fluids
- Checking/replacing windshield wipers and brake pads
- Making sure the engine is running properly
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to any factory recalls or warnings that may be associated with your vehicle. If a part of your vehicle gets recalled, you should get notified. Taking care of the issues with your car as soon as possible is crucial. But, if that recall has already caused problems for you or your car, talking with a legal expert about your options is often the best route, so don’t be afraid to do your research on recalls.
Driving According to Conditions
Depending on where you live in the country, driving conditions in the winter can vary. Some places experience a lot of rain. Other places are more notorious for ice storms, while snow and blizzard conditions aren’t uncommon in certain areas. If you do experience inclement weather in the winter, one of the best things you can do is drive according to those conditions. If you’re in the middle of a snowstorm, you’re not going to want to go 70 miles per hour down the highway.
Instead, slow down. Speeding is involved in about one-third of all motor vehicle accidents, and speeding in the winter when the roads are wet or icy is even more dangerous. If you’re going too fast and have to stop suddenly, you risk slipping on snow or ice, and your car may slide forward and hit someone (or something) else. Avoid using your cruise controls, as well. You want to be in complete control of your speed while you’re driving.
Another useful winter safety hack is to stay farther away from other cars, if you can. Keeping your distance will reduce your chances of sliding into someone, and will keep you more aware of the conditions around you.
Keeping Yourself Prepared
No one wants to think about their car breaking down or getting stranded somewhere in the winter. Unfortunately, it can happen. Or, you might slide on a patch of ice in the road and get stuck in a ditch, or even a snowbank.
Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to get the help you need quickly. A towing service is just a phone call away, and you can always contact friends or family members for help, too. But, depending on where you are, you might find yourself having to stay in your car for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, especially if road conditions are hazardous.
With that in mind, it’s always important to be as prepared as possible in the winter by stocking your car full of some safety essentials. In the event of an emergency, some must-have items you should keep in your car or trunk include:
- A flashlight
- A blanket
- A first aid kit
- A phone charger
It’s also helpful to have either flares or reflectors that you can put around your car if you’re still close to the road. This will alert other drivers and help them avoid your vehicle. If it’s snowing or hard to see, giving other drivers enough time to notice your car is important. You should also turn on your hazard lights.
Winter can make some drivers nervous thanks to changes in weather and road conditions. But, these tips can help keep you, your passengers, and your vehicle safe throughout the season so you can cruise easily into spring.