Winter Driving Tips

carssnowIn January and February, most of the country experiences plunging temperatures and the effects of the ‘polar vortex’.

Along with the freezing temperatures comes winter precipitation that can bring snow, sleet and freezing rain.  Stay safe while driving this winter by following these safety tips:

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Pay special attention to ensure the wiper blades and the front/rear defrosters are working properly.  Make sure all fluids are topped off and don’t let the gas tank get below half empty during the winter.
  • Before setting off on any winter excursion, be sure to stock your vehicle with the following emergency supplies: jumper cables, ice scraper, flash light, fuel line de-icer, emergency kit, blankets and a few snacks.  You may also want to keep a bag of sand or cat litter in your car – as it can poured around tires to gain traction if you get stuck.
  • While out on the road, keep an eye out for black ice – which gets it’s name because it blends in with the surroundings. Black ice is especially dangerous because it is difficult to spot.   Look for areas of an otherwise dry roadway that appear dark and glossy.  Be aware of new fallen snow that may be covering sections of black ice.
  • Be aware of the outside temperature, as black ice typically forms when the temperature is 32 degrees or colder.  The most commons areas where black ice forms are shaded or tree-lined roadways due to the lack of sunshine and bridges/overpasses due to their ability to freeze quickly.
  • If you find your car sliding on ice, the best thing to do is stay calm. Do not make any sudden corrections or slam on your brakes.  Instead, lift your foot off the accelerator and hold the steering wheel straight.  Most patches of black ice are not that large, so if you hold the car in position on the road – chances are you’ll slid over the ice quickly.  If you feel the car skidding, turn the wheel in the direction of the skid and only apply the gas once you’ve felt the car gain traction.
  • If your car gets stuck, don’t floor the accelerator in order to ‘power out’ of the ice or snow. Instead, place the sand, cat litter, a piece of cardboard or your car’s floor mat under the tires and gently pull out of the slippery area.

In all winter driving circumstances, proceed with caution and go slow.  It might make your trip longer, but chances are you will arrive at your destination safely.

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