Winter can be the most treacherous time for driving. Snow, black ice, and dark roads are a dangerous combination. Breakdowns are more common in cold weather so it’s important to be safe while driving.
Taking precautions to keep your car in the best condition for the snowy months is vital. You will need to be prepared for anything that winter might throw at you.
Here are a few of the best car safety tips for staying safe this winter.
Use Common Sense
The obvious measures like wearing a seatbelt and not using your phone while driving are even more important during the winter months. Making sure there are no distractions is also important.
Winter means that you will be battling the elements whenever you drive, so making sure you are focused on the road and other road users around you is an absolute must. Avoid driving at night where possible for the best visibility and to reduce the risk of coming across black ice.
You should also moderate your speed to the road conditions. Speed up gently and do likewise while slowing down. If you get into a skid avoid the instinct to slam on the breaks and instead pump them gently to get better traction on the slippery road surface.
Stay Home Where Possible
The best way to stay safe this winter is to avoid driving where possible. If there is a heavy snow forecast then staying home is definitely the safest option.
This will not be an option for everyone as people rely on driving to get to work and get essential shopping, but if there are any adjustments you can make to minimize the amount of driving you do over the winter that is a must.
Keep Your Car In Good Condition
Your tires, brake fluid, and battery must be all in top condition going into the winter months. You should also make sure that your car’s heating system and windscreen wipers are working properly so that you can keep your windscreen clear of ice and snow.
It is also worth having your car checked over for any faults with a reliable automotive repair service like Paul Campanella’s Auto & Tire Center. Having a professional check your car and carry out any repairs will give you important peace of mind that your car is safe to drive during the winter months.
Keep Your Distance From Other Drivers
It’s never more important to leave an appropriate gap between you and the vehicle in front of you than in icy or snowy conditions. In snow or ice, your car’s stopping distance will be drastically increased. So that you can be prepared enough to stop for any hazards ahead you should keep a distance several times longer than you would while driving on a dry road.
The more space between you and the car in front the better. It will give you time and space to prepare for treacherous parts of the road and to gain control of your vehicle if necessary.
Consider Winter Tires
If you’re in an area that has particularly cold or snowy winters then it might be worth investing in winter tires. These are tires with deeper treads which are better for gripping the road in snowy conditions.
While having a separate set of tires for winter may be expensive, the safety provided can be well worth the cost.
You could also consider snow chains, though you must ensure that there is enough snow for these to be safe to drive on, so that you don’t end up damaging your tires.
Take A Hazardous Driving Course
If you’re really concerned about how you will cope in wintery conditions there are courses available that instruct drivers in the techniques that can be used to navigate slippery surfaces.
Courses that teach you the right way to correct your car when spinning out or how to stop if your tires can’t get traction can be a valuable resource for keeping yourself safe this winter.
Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment
Always keep an ice scraper in your car with you over the winter. This way if you find your car frozen up after work you won’t have to wait for your car to heat up completely to clear your windscreen. Having de-icing spray can be useful as well. If heavy snow is expected then a snow shovel could be useful in case you have to clear the snow around your car.
Always make sure you have a warm coat, shoes, and gloves with you in your car. If the worst should happen you may need to wait in your car for recovery or make the trek to get to help, though you should always stay and shelter in your car if there is a storm. Where possible take a portable battery pack for your phone so you can always be sure that your phone will have a charge when you need it.
Give Yourself More Time
Whether you’re going for your daily commute or heading to the store, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going on time. The last thing you need is to be worried about making an appointment on time.
Rushing in icy or snowy conditions can be incredibly dangerous. You want to be able to give your full attention to the road when conditions are snowy or icy, so give yourself plenty of time to get places. Consider doubling your allotted commute time, and leave well in advance of any store closing times.
Ensure You Have Plenty Of Fuel
Make sure that you have at least half a tank of gas when you set out. If you do encounter difficulties you will need to stay warm until a recovery service can get to you.
Running out of fuel on a journey with hazardous conditions can also be dangerous for both you and other road users, as your vehicle will present another obstacle in addition to the adverse weather.
Being stopped at the side of the road could cause a collision that will only exacerbate the risks of winter driving.
Clear Snow From Your Car
Even if you aren’t going to be using it, this is a good rule of thumb for car maintenance. Letting snow build up on your car will only make it more likely that you will have a breakdown, as the cold will affect your car’s engine, as well as eroding the metal.
Snow can also damage paintwork and windscreen wipers and make driving visibility difficult. Make it a habit to clear any snow or debris from your car daily.
If at all possible keep your car somewhere sheltered like a garage, or invest in a car hood to make removing snow easier, and prevent snow from getting into the cracks and gaps in your car.
The best way to stay safe in treacherous winter weather is to stay home. This won’t be possible for everyone, however, so the next best thing is to be prepared for whatever winter throws at you.
Keep your car in top condition, drive carefully, and plan your drives before you set out. If you are really concerned about being winter driving ready then investing in a course on hazardous driving techniques or purchasing some winter tires can really help to give you peace of mind while driving.