The winter brings unique challenges to drivers, especially those who live in areas that see snow and temperatures regularly at or below freezing. For example, the cold weather can freeze your car’s fluids, affect how the battery works, and change the pressure of your tires. As temperatures drop here in Oneonta, we thought now would be a good time to share some safety tips for winter driving.
Tips for Cold Weather Driving
When the temperature starts to drop, the cold will affect how your car runs. We recommend performing some light maintenance on your vehicle as winter sets in, either yourself or by taking your vehicle to a mechanic or dealer near you.
Some other cold weather driving tips include:
- Always keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle.
- Check that your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread.
- Never warm up your vehicle in an enclosed area, like a garage.
- Put together a cold-weather gear kit to keep in your car, including things like blankets, warm clothing, snacks, water, and an ice scraper.
Tips for Driving in the Snow
Snow is one of the most dangerous challenges for drivers. If it’s snowy in your area and you don’t have to leave the house, stay home. It’s always best to avoid driving in snow entirely, even if you’re experienced driving in such weather.
If you must go out, however, here are some tips for driving in the snow:
- Accelerate and decelerate very slowly to avoid skids.
- Drive slower than usual to account for the lower traction offered by snow or ice.
- Don’t come to a complete stop if you can avoid it. Instead, roll slowly and cautiously through stop signs and traffic signals.
- Increase your following distance behind other vehicles to better avoid a collision.
If you ever get stuck in the snow, stay put, keep yourself warm, and make yourself as visible as possible. If you try leaving your vehicle during a storm you may get lost and trying to dig your way can exhaust you. Clear your exhaust pipe if it’s clogged with mud, ice, or snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and conserve as much fuel as possible while you wait for rescue.
Tips for Long-Distance Winter Road Trips
Though people are traveling less than usual this year, it is still best to be aware of any risks road trips pose during winter.
If you plan on taking a road trip this winter, we recommend taking care of the following before you leave:
- Get your vehicle checked by an auto repair facility to make sure everything is in order.
- Check the weather along your route to ensure bad weather isn’t expected. If a major storm is coming, cancel or postpone your trip if necessary.
- Notify friends or family of your destination and expected arrival time before leaving.
- Make sure all your devices, including cell phones, are fully charged and pack all your charging cables.
- Pack jumper cables, abrasive material such as sand in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, flashlights, and other safety items recommended by the National Safety Council before hitting the road.
For more winter driving tips, head to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Winter Driving Tips page on their website.