Winter can be beautiful, but it can also come with a lot of problems—snow removal risks, water damage, slip-and-fall incidents… not to mention winter driving, which can also be dangerous.
With a little preparation and some extra caution, you can make it through the winter months safely. Here are some winter driving tips to help you do just that:
Get your car serviced before winter starts.
Check your tire pressure, make sure they’re properly inflated and have enough tread.
Consider getting winter tires if you live in an area where snow and ice are common.
Check your wipers and replace them if necessary.
Fill up your windshield washer fluid reservoir so you can keep your windshield clean while driving.
Lastly, have your battery tested to make sure it’s strong enough to last through the winter months.
Slow down and give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.
Winter weather can make conditions on the roads unpredictable, so it’s important to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Leave earlier than usual so you don’t have to rush and can take your time driving.
Increase your following distance.
It takes longer to stop on wet or icy roads, so you’ll want to leave more space between you and the car in front of you than usual so as to increase your stopping distance. A good rule of thumb is to increase your following distance to at least four seconds.
Brake slowly and gently.
Sudden braking can cause you to lose control of your car, so it’s important to brake slowly and gently when driving in winter weather conditions. If you start to skid, take your foot off the gas pedal and steer into the skid until you regain control of the vehicle.
Use your headlights—and don’t forget about your taillights!
Headlights help you see in low-visibility conditions and also help other drivers see you. Make sure your headlights are turned on whenever visibility is reduced, even during the daytime.
And don’t forget about your taillights / brake lights—make sure they’re clean so they can be seen clearly by other drivers behind you.
Don’t use cruise control on wet or icy roads.
Cruise control can cause you to lose control of your car if the road conditions are slick, so it’s best to avoid using it altogether in these situations.
Don’t drive distracted.
Distracted driving is dangerous under any circumstances, but it’s especially hazardous in winter weather conditions when visibility is reduced and stopping distances are increased. Put away any electronic devices before getting behind the steering wheel, and focus solely on driving.
Avoid unnecessary travel.
If there’s a winter storm warning in effect, pay attention to the advisories and only travel if absolutely necessary. Remember: You can always wait out a storm at home where it ‘s warm and safe.
Pack an emergency kit.
In case of an emergency, it ‘s always good to be prepared. Pack a bag with essential items like bottled water, non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, blankets, warm clothing, a flashlight, and a charged cell phone. Keep a pair of jumper cables in your vehicle, as well as a snow shovel (in case you need to dig yourself out of a snow bank).
Know how to handle a spin out.
If you start to skid, take your foot off the gas pedal immediately and steer into the skid until you regain control of the vehicle. Do not brake while you are skidding—this could cause further loss of control.
Learn more on how to handle a spin out here.
Driving in ice and snow doesn’t have to be dangerous, you just have to take some extra precautions. By following these tips, you can help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable winter season on the roads.