With the wintertime comes snow and ice. A lot of times people stay home when the roads are bad. But sometimes a surprise snowstorm comes up that no one expected and you’re out driving in the middle of it.
Whether you are expecting snow or you just want to be prepared in case you run into snow while you’re on the road, we’re going to give you some tips that you can use to help keep you and everyone in the vehicle safe while you’re on the road. After all, the last thing you want to happen is to have a bad accident and wind up injured or worse.
Before Setting Out
Before you even get on the road, there are a few things that you want to check to help keep you and your passengers safe while you are driving during the wintery weather.
- Get the Vehicle Serviced – Go to the mechanic and have it tuned up. Also, ask for them to check for hoses that are badly worn, leaks, and other repairs, replacements and parts that are needed.
- Check for Any Recalls – Here is where you can find any recalls. Simply put in your VIN and you can find out if there’s any safety issues that haven’t been repaired and the way you can get it fixed free.
- Check Your Manual – Read the manual and become familiar with your vehicle’s features, like ABS brakes, and the way that the features will perform during winter conditions. If you are renting a vehicle, familiarize yourself with it before you drive it off of the lot.
- Charge It – If you have a hybrid-electric or electric vehicle, minimize it’s battery drain. With cars with battery thermal heating packs, make sure the vehicle’s plugged in when you’re not using it. Preheat your passenger compartment before unplugging it when you get up.
- Stock the Vehicle – Carry items in the vehicle so that you can handle common tasks during the winter or any emergency supplies that might be needed. These are things like:
- Snow broom, ice scraper and shovel
- Something like kitty litter or sand if you become stuck
- Flashlight, warning devices like flares and emergency markers and jumper cables.
- Water, cell phone & charger, food, medication
- Plan Your Route & Travel – Before you head out, be sure you’re checking the road conditions, traffic and weather. You shouldn’t rush and give yourself lots of time to get to the destination. Make sure you’re familiarizing yourself with maps and directions before going. This is true even with a GPS. Also, tell others what time you plan to arrive and the route you’re taking.
We’re almost done and ready to get on the road. But before we do, here is a safety checklist that you should go over.
Once the temperature drops, your battery power does too. For diesel and gas engines, it’s going to take more power for starting the vehicle. For hybrid-electric and electric, your driving range will be reduced when the battery’s cold. Have the charging system, belts and battery checked by the mechanical so any replacements or repairs can be made. Keep gas in your hybrid car to support your gas engine.
Check all of your lights before you’re heading out and check trailer turn signals and brake lights if applicable.
Be certain your vehicle has enough coolant and that its meeting the specifications of the manufacturer. See your owner’s manual for their recommendations. Have your mechanic check your cooling system before going.
Washer Reservoir – It’s easy to go through a lot of wiper fluid during snowstorms. So you should fill your reservoir with fluid that has de-icer in it before going.
Wipers & Defrosters – Be sure that your wipers and defrosters, both your rear and front, are working and replace worn blades. It’s also a good idea to install heavy-duty wipers if the area where you live is known for lots of ice and snow.
Floor Mats – Make sure that your floor mats are properly installed, since they can interfere with your ability to accelerate or brake. Make sure that you are following your manufacturer’s instructions to install them. You should also use some retention clips for securing them and keep them going forward. You also should only use mats that are the right fit and size for the vehicle.
As temperature’s drop, your tire pressure also drops. Make sure that each of your tires is filled to the recommended pressure. Below are some more tips to use for your tires.
- Inspect the tires before you go on a long trip.
- Get snow tires installed during the fall, so you’re ready.
- Look at the tread closely. If the tread is insufficient or has uneven wear, replace the tires. Your tread should be a minimum of 2/32” or better.
- Check each tire’s age. It’s recommended by some manufacturers that you replace them every 6 years. However, you should check your vehicle’s manual.
While on the Road
Now that you are on the go, below are some tips that you can use to keep you and your passengers safe.
- Remain Alert – Make sure that you are checking your gas tank and keeping it almost full when possible. When you are driving a longer distance, give yourself time to get food, use the restroom, change drivers, rest if you’re feeling drowsy, and return text messages and calls,
- Don’t Take Risks – Texting or talking on the phone while driving is never a good idea, but its even a worse idea when you are driving in wintery conditions. Obey the speed limits and make sure that you are driving sober. Both drugs and alcohol, even the legal ones, can cause some impairment.
- Slow down – It is going to take a lot more time for your vehicle to stop when the road is icy or snow covered.
- Be Careful Around Snowplows – You shouldn’t crowd snowplows or drive beside it. A snowplow will travel slowly, stop often, overlap lanes, frequently exit roads and make turns that are wider than usual. If you’re in back of a snowplow, you should remain there or be careful when you are passing it.
If an Emergency Happens
If you’re stalled or stopped in slippery, wintery conditions, below are some safety rules to follow:
- Remain with the car
- Don’t become overexerted
- Put some bright markers on your windows or antenna
- Keep your dome light on
- Don’t run your car for hours on end with your windows up or in enclosed spaces to avoid becoming asphyxiated. If you have to run the vehicle clear your exhaust pipe of snow. Only run the vehicle sporadically so that you can stay warm.
These are just some of the things that you can do to help yourself stay safe on the road during winter driving. The best thing that you can do when the snow and ice are falling is to stay home. However, that’s not always possible.
We have a lot of great winter items for your car and home in our store to help keep you safe. Take a look at what we have and please keep coming back as we always are adding new items and new blogs to help you with the things that you need.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and let us know what you’re looking for. We’re glad to help out in any way we can.