All essential winter driving tips can be rounded up into three simple rules – SLOW DOWN, STAY ALERT, and KEEP CALM. Do not take winter road safety lightly, whether you are a new driver or have years of experience driving through bad weather. Read through this quick checklist before you hit the sloppy roads and snowstorms.
The thrill of waking up to a white wonderland outside your window doesn’t last long if you have any plans of heading out that day. Even when your car is lucky enough to stay toasty in an indoor parking space, there’s still the challenge of maneuvering it over slippery streets and the risk of worse weather. Finding parking in winter is also complicated; street parking has obvious disadvantages, while indoor parking facilities rake in maximum demand.
Whether it is your daily commute, errands in the city, or a holiday road trip, driving in winter is a major safety concern. The importance of taking winter driving precautions and following expert instructions cannot be stressed enough. Keep track of traffic and parking regulations online to avoid last-minute travel troubles. Follow official social media channels for up-to-date information on the go, especially when you are traveling to another city.
Before you get behind the wheel, take a look at these essential tips to make sure you and your car are ready to keep up with winter road safety.
How to prepare for winter driving
Is your car road-ready for winter?
Before figuring out how to maintain control of your vehicle during challenging weather, make sure your car can handle the pressure. Take your car to the mechanic well before winter sets in – do not compromise safety by delaying repairs and replacements. NHTSA winter driving tips also highlight the need to check for recalls, which can be done online using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
If it’s a new car or a rental, this quick DIY car maintenance checklist is all you need for a safety check. When you are unfamiliar with a car, take some time to figure out how its safety features work. If the dashboard lights have left you scratching your head, this warning lights quiz will help.
Batteries, brakes, lights, wipers, and tires are on everyone’s radar when it comes to the winter driving checklist. But you must also pay attention to details, such as floor mats. When not installed properly, it could interfere with the smooth operation of brake and accelerator pedals.
Stocking your car for snow emergencies
You needn’t be on a long road trip to get stuck in a snowstorm out of the blue. If your city is a hub for bad weather during winter, stocking your car for emergencies should be a pre-winter tradition. Here’s all that needs to go in your emergency kit.
Shovels, scrapers, jumper cables, and flares are must-haves for every winter road trip. But apart from the emergency kit, make sure you plan your route and rest stops for any long drive during this season. Even with a GPS, get a good look at the map and directions before you leave and stay updated on road conditions, traffic, and weather reports. Keep a friend or family member in the loop, too – update them about your route and estimated time of arrival to cover all bases, in case you get stuck without a network.
Read: 5 essential, safe driving tips for the holiday season 2021
Car precautions for cold weather
Winter driving precautions do not stop at getting your car serviced. It is an ongoing process – your car needs extra care every time you use it. Start by making sure you have at least half a tank of fuel at all times. If you use an electric or hybrid car, take steps to minimize the drain on the battery – such as warming up the interiors while plugged in.
Ensure the seat belts and booster seats for kids are all working properly and up to safety standards. Thick blankets and outerwear might restrict the harness; use thin warm layers for your kids in booster seats. Buckle them in, and then cover with blankets for extra warmth.
Avoid leaving your car parked outside in the cold for long durations. Find an affordable garage space for overnight parking and save yourself from the extra task of clearing snow off your car. Follow these tips for safe car parking in winter.
Safe winter driving tips
- Stay alert when you are behind the wheel. Getting distracted by your phone is dangerous when there’s snow on the ground and visibility is poor.
- Avoid cruise control during slippery conditions like ice or snow on the street. Slow down as it is hard to control your car with lower traction in this weather.
- To avoid skids, accelerate and brake slowly. Keep in mind that it takes longer to slow down on slippery roads.
- Avoid stopping wherever possible. It is easier to slow down and keep the car rolling than start again from a full stop.
- Stepping on the gas while driving on snow-covered roads will only leave your wheels spinning. So, do not power up hills – instead, gradually speed up before you reach the ascent and use that power to drive up effortlessly. And, never stop on a slope.
- Keep an eye out for snowplows and stay out of their path. Snowplows are slow and can be unpredictable with wide turns or crossing over lanes. A snowplowed road is easier to drive on – however, if you are driving behind an active snow plow, maintain a safe distance.
- On a long drive, plan regular stops to stretch and rest. Eat healthy to stay alert and take turns driving to avoid burnout.
What to do when stuck in bad weather
When you are forced to stop or stall during bad weather on the road, stay with your car and avoid overexertion. Do not walk away from your car as you could get lost in blowing snow. Taking temporary shelter in your vehicle makes it easier for rescuers to find you. If possible, keep the interior dome light on – it doesn’t use a lot of power. You can exit the car to put out bright markers, flares, or hazard triangles.
Before turning the engine on, make sure there is no snow, mud, or ice clogging the car’s exhaust pipe. A block in the exhaust is highly dangerous as it can fill the car with deadly carbon monoxide once the engine starts running. To conserve fuel, run the engine and heater only to remove the chill. Use newspapers, floor mats, and blankets from your emergency kit to insulate your body.
Maintain calm at all times and do not attempt to get yourself out of the situation when the weather is severe. Take steps to keep yourself warm and conserve energy while waiting for the storm to pass. If you’re stuck indoors while your car is parked out during heavy snowfall, do not attempt to move it. Once the weather gets better, remove the snow and ice carefully. Warm up the vehicle and do a safety check before driving it again.
Or avoid the hassle altogether and always park your car in an affordable garage. Find the best parking deals on way.com to keep your car safe and comfy during winter.
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