Stay Safe With These Winter Driving Tips

Stay Safe With These Winter Driving Tips

The best piece of advice for driving in snowy, icy conditions is simply don’t do it if you don’t have to. Unfortunately, most of us have obligations that we must attend—even in the winter months. Work, school, family functions and Christmas parties to name just a few. Here are a few road safety tips to help you stay safe this winter.

Check The Weather Forecast

If the forecast calls for a storm, allow yourself plenty of extra time. The more time you have to spare, the less likely you will be to drive recklessly and lose control of your vehicle. If you going on a long-distance road trip, be sure to check the forecast in each city that you will be driving through as the weather and road conditions can change drastically from one region to the next.

Be Prepared

Never leave home without your cell phone, especially in bad weather conditions.  You want to be able to call for help if necessary. The folks at AAA also recommend placing a placing a safety or survival kit inside your vehicle at the beginning of winter. Your kit should be divided into items that you will use on a daily basis as well as emergency items. Daily items should be easily accessible and may include:

  • Ice scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Driving gloves
  • Umbrella

Survival items can be stored in the trunk or rear cargo area of you vehicle, but are best stored somewhere where you can access them without getting out of your vehicle if possible. Such items include:

  • Blankets
  • Hats
  • Food
  • Water
  • Medication

Emergency items that you will want to keep in your automobile during the winter months include:

  • Jumper cables
  • Chains, gravel or kitty litter
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Road flares

Hopefully, you won’t ever need to use any of these items. But in the event that you become stranded they could save your life.

Drive Carefully

When the roads are covered with snow and ice, you should always drive carefully. Slow down if you need too. Driving too fast can cause you to lose control of your car and collide with either stationary or moving objects.  In many states, driving too fast for the conditions can also result in a ticket for reckless driving.

The best way to maintain control of your vehicle in the snow and ice is to accelerate and decelerate slowly. This will provide the best traction and help you to avoid skidding out of control. If you do find yourself losing control of the vehicle, try this trick that professional drivers have been using for years: turn your steering wheel the opposite direction that you are trying to turn. It may sound crazy, but it works!

Finally, when conditions are too slippery, you should also leave yourself about three times as much room between cars as you normally do to that you have plenty of time to stop. Failure to maintain control of your vehicle can also result in reckless driving charges, not to mention endangers you and others on the road.

Don’t Drive Fatigued

It doesn’t matter if you are driving a short distance or a long distance, you should never drive fatigued. This can be as dangerous as driving under the influence. So rather than staying at a holiday party longer than you want, use this as an excuse to duck out early. If you start to feel drowsy while driving, pull over immediately. Ask a passenger in your car to drive for a while or pull that blanket out of your emergency kit and take a power nap!

Don’t Drive Under The Influence

This should go without saying, but unfortunately many people still do it. During the holiday party season, it is more important than ever to designate a driver. This is the safest, easiest way to stay prevent an accident or a citation. If you aren’t traveling with a friend or loved one and you plan to have a few drinks, you would be well advised to take some sort of public transportation: train, taxi or bus. Planning to take public transportation ahead of time will not only ensure your own safety, but also the safety of others. You won’t have to worry about returning the next day to retrieve the car you left behind. If neither a designated driver nor public transportation is an option, stay where you are. Chances are the host of the party would rather have you crash on the couch for a while than putting yourself at risk.