In the winter, your thoughts may turn to sipping cocoa by a warm fire. If you
live in the Snow Belt, your thoughts may also turn to nasty winter weather.
Snow and ice can make for a beautiful winter landscape, but they can produce
dangerous driving conditions, as well.
Protecting yourself means winterizing your car
Here are some things you should do before the first snowfall hits the ground
to minimize your chances of a road mishap:
- Take your car to a trusted mechanic for a prewinter checkup. Check tires
for proper inflation and good tread, and make sure you have new wiper blades,
a working heat and defroster system, the right level of antifreeze, and safe
- Keep an ice scraper, snow shovel, cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables,
chains for your tires, blankets, emergency phone numbers, lock deicer, and
food and water in your car.
- Keep an extra car key in your pocket, purse, or wallet in case you lock
yourself out of your car.
- Keep your car in a garage, if possible, to protect it from snow and ice
buildup and to reduce the risk of your car not starting on a cold day.
- Join an auto club (or renew your membership). If you break down, you can
call the auto club and get free emergency roadside services (e.g. a tow or
a jump start).
- Make sure your auto insurance coverage is sufficient. Winter weather increases
the risk of auto accidents and other mishaps (e.g. a tree falling on your
car), so this is not a good time to have less-than-adequate insurance.
Other winter tips
In addition to protecting your car, here are some helpful winter driving tips:
- Keep your windshield and windows clear at all times. Use your wipers and
defrosters as needed, and don't hesitate to pull over and clean the windows
by hand if you're still having trouble seeing.
- Plan your driving routes. When there's snow and ice on the ground, take
highways and other major roads that are usually plowed frequently and maintained
better than back roads.
- Keep your gas tank full in case of traffic delays or unexpected changes
in your route.
- Drive defensively! It's especially important to slow down and be careful
when you're driving in less-than-favorable conditions.
- Become familiar with how your vehicle handles in snow and ice by practicing
braking in an empty parking lot.
- Frequently test your brakes when driving on snowy or icy pavement, because
driving conditions can change rapidly.
- When your vehicle is disabled, it's usually best to stay with the vehicle
until help arrives. If the engine is still running properly, use the heat
to stay warm, but stay alert to how much gas is left in the car.
- Use common sense. Allow plenty of time to get where you need to go. And
if visibility is really poor or road conditions are particularly treacherous,
don't drive at all.
Please note that this description/explanation is intended only
as a guideline.