Thursday, April 18, 2024

Don’t Freeze Up This Winter – Strategies for Safe Winter Driving

Winter can be beautiful but it also poses many driving challenges. Between darting wildlife and black ice, it’s essential to revisit strategies that will help keep you and your family safe during the coldest of seasons. Beyond tried and tested strategies, which we discuss below, keep in mind that finding the cheapest car insurance while preparing your car for freezing temperatures will also lend to confidence on the road.

Take the time to remove all of the snow cover from your car…

When it’s cold outside, the last thing most people want to do is stand in the cold, blowing snow and make sure their vehicle is free of snow. However, while it might be uncomfortable, it is also the law in most places. Disregarding this important aspect of safe winter driving can lead to limited visibility for you as the driver and for other drivers seeing you, your headlights and brake lights.

It’s not just the windows that need to be wiped clean of snow; it’s also all of the lights – brake, headlights, and taillights, plus the license plate and mirrors. Not only does it cause visibility problems but as you drive, the snow blowing off of your car can come off in chunks (and some might be ice) and cause serious issues for others on the road.

Start from the top and work your way down when clearing your vehicle of snow. If you find this truly detestable, consider installing a remote car starter in your vehicle so that as your car warms up, it will do most of the work for you.

Survey the road far ahead of you…

Driving safely is not a passive activity. To truly be prepared for what is in store for you, pay attention not only to your immediate surroundings but also to what’s farther down the road. Doing this regularly will give you plenty of time to assess traffic jams, construction areas, accidents, and any other issue that lies ahead.

It is important to keep your eyes moving instead of focusing on just one thing. When you focus on one thing you create a tunnel vision that doesn’t allow you to detect movement in your peripheral vision. Regardless of what speed you’re driving, this is dangerous because the moment you focus on one thing you are essentially “driving blind.” If you find yourself focusing on something, remind yourself to unlock your gaze and, instead, scan the road around you and farther ahead.

Keep an eye on your tires…

Worn out tires are dangerous to drive on. They are essential to safe driving, so it’s prudent to know what the proper air pressure for your tires, to have an air pressure gauge you know how to use, and to be able to spot worn tread or other tire issues.

Tires that don’t have good tread will be harder to control in times of rain and on snow covered roads. Tires that aren’t up to their proper pressure (psi) will be more prone to a blow out and will also decrease the efficiency of your gas mileage.

You can use the simple penny test to find out if you have enough tread on your tires. When inserting a penny into the tread (with Lincoln’s head upside down), and Lincoln’s head disappears, your tread is good. If you can still see Lincoln’s face, it’s time to replace your tires.

Stock up on windshield washer fluid…

If you live in an area where there is frequent and regular snowfall, you’ll want to make sure the reservoir for your windshield washer fluid is filled with the high quality de-icer kind. Keep in mind that driving through one storm could deplete that reservoir, so you’ll want to have an extra gallon in your car. Running out of this essential fluid can create a zero visibility situation out of your windshield.

While you’re at it, inspect the wipers themselves and make sure they are working properly. They should not skip or blur the windshield. They shouldn’t have any frayed edges or gaps while hugging the blade arm. Check your vehicle’s defroster, too, to be certain that doesn’t need repair.

Take it easy and be patient…

Remember, you are not the only one inconvenienced by traffic congestion, roadwork and winter storms. Everyone else on the road is trying to get to their destination, as well. The best thing to do when you’re caught up in a frustrating winter issue on the road is to be patient.

  • Give yourself plenty of time (and then add 20 minutes) to get to where you are going
  • Check the weather so you don’t run into unexpected nastiness on the road
  • Be considerate to other drivers who may be going slower than you’d like or who are trying to merge into traffic

With an average of 1,300 people killed in car crashes during wintry weather annually, brushing up on safety skills and strategies will remind you of the risks, and get you better prepared.