Winter is nearly here, and the roads will steadily be getting busier and more dangerous as we approach the holidays. Because of the weather and the increased traffic, late autumn and early winter always show a spike in the number of traffic incidents. If you plan to hit the road this season, it is important to be educated on winter driving and ensure you reach your destination safely.
Hazards of Winter Travel
Although the holidays create more traffic on the roads, this is far from the only danger that is presented to drivers. The road conditions created by winter weather can cause dangerous situations, but it is even more dangerous because so many drivers are unaware of proper driving techniques for this kind of weather.
Driving in winter weather is not like driving during the rest of the year. Snow, sleet, icy roads and other conditions create circumstances for which many drivers are unprepared. While the best option is to avoid excessive travelling during these situations, this is obviously an unrealistic expectation for everyone.
The following tips are designed to help educate and prepare those who will travel the roads this winter. With proper understanding and utilization of these safe driving tips, lives that may be in danger could be protected. Even aside from fatal accidents, winter conditions cause traffic incidents that can result in injury and thousands in damage.
Winter Driving Tips
No matter where you are going or how short the distance, these basic strategies can help keep your family safe on winter roads.
- Do not drive while you are tired. Fatigued driving is one of the leading causes of accidents year-round, and the conditions of winter greatly increase the risks.
- Keep your tires properly inflated.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full. This is especially important before embarking on a trip in hazardous conditions such as snow.
- Do not run your vehicle in a garage or other enclosed area. Many people make this mistake to warm up a car, but the fumes can be deadly.
- Avoid the use of your parking brake during cold, snowy or rainy weather.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery road.
- Keep your headlights on at all times. This will improve your own visibility as well as your visibility to others.
- Be especially cautious on bridges, overpasses and other areas that are more likely to freeze over in cold weather.
- Do not text or check weather updates on your phone while driving.
- ALWAYS fasten your seatbelt upon entering your vehicle.
Long-distance Winter Driving Tips
While the tips listed above should be utilized anytime you are on the road this winter, the following information is geared specifically towards winter road trips, cold-weather vacations and long-distance family visits this holiday season.
- Stay up to date on news and weather reports in the days and hours leading up to your trip. If there are hazardous reports, delay your trip if possible.
- Be sure to let others know about your destination, the route on which you will travel and how long the trip is expected to take.
- Have your vehicle inspected by a professional auto mechanic before embarking on any long road trip.
- Make sure to fully charge your cell phone and have all passengers do the same before leaving.
- Prepare an emergency kit in case of an incident. Your winter emergency kit may include a number of items, but the basic necessities include:
- An ice scraper
- A snow shovel
- Sand or salt for thawing snow/ice
- Gloves and hats
- Food and water
- Fill your windshield washer fluid tank and make sure your wiper blades are in good shape.
- Keep in mind that speed limits are intended for dry roads in normal weather. Take your time and drive slowly.
- If you become fatigued, find a safe place to stop and rest.
- Know your brakes and how to properly use them in hazardous conditions.
- If the weather is bad, just stay home. Waiting for inclement weather to pass may change your plans, but it could also save your life. If you absolutely must travel in bad weather, make sure you are prepared and take all of the precautions listed here.