Winter Driving Safety Tips

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Winter Driving Safety Tips


Having your winter tires installed on your car and packing a windshield scraper is a good start to being prepared to drive in the winter, but as the cold weather gets harsher, the driving conditions get worse. With this comes the tendency for some people to overcorrect or not know how to stop properly, or know how to steer when their car starts to skid. To put it simply: many good drivers are not at their best in winter weather. Here is some guidance for making sure you have a safe trip this winter.

Driving Safely in the Snow

Bad weather, poor road conditions and winter storms account for almost half a
million crashes each winter, and more than 2,000 deaths. You should practice defensive driving always, and your best bet is to stay home if you can. If you absolutely must leave where you are and drive in the snow, here are some tips:

  • Always drive slowly – you have low traction on
    snow or ice
  • Decelerate and accelerate slowly – this will
    prevent spinning out or other potential accidents
  • Increase the distance between you and the car
    ahead of you. Several car lengths – at least to five or six seconds

How to Prepare for Winter Driving

Good defensive driving is great, but you should also prepare for the worst. This means keeping your car stocked up with provisions and a robust emergency kit in case of an accident, a breakdown, being stranded, or worse.

  • Keep extra food and water in your car, along
    with warm clothes, a blanket,  a glass
    scraper, a flashlight, medications and anything else you could need if you end
    up stranded in your car
  • Keep your tires properly inflated and make sure
    they have sufficient tread
  • Make sure your car always has at least half a
    tank of fuel
  • Don’t warm your car up in a garage or any other
    enclosed area, as you run the very real and high risk of carbon monoxide
    poisoning – you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide, so you won’t know when
    it’s a problem
  • Don’t use your car’s cruise control function if
    you’re driving somewhere slippery like on snow or ice

Driving Long Distance in the Snow

If you’re going on a trip and have to drive in the snow, make sure your car is functioning. Get it checked out to make sure nothing needs to be replaced. Also, plan ahead by:

  • Checking the weather along the route you’re
    taking, and delay if the weather is going to be bad
  • Let people know when you are leaving and where
    you are going – share your route with trusted people
  • Don’t leave your vehicle if you are stuck in the
    snow, since your vehicle will be your shelter. It can be remarkably easy to
    lose track of your vehicle in a snowstorm
  • If you have to dig your vehicle out of snow,
    don’t keep going if you’re tired – take a break
  • Clear your exhaust pipe if you’re stuck in the
    snow so that exhaust and carbon monoxide don’t enter the car (it will kill you)


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