Winter has arrived and with the cold weather comes the need to be extra careful on the road. Seasonal dangers, including snow and ice on roads, and reduced visibility from winter precipitation, make it important for drivers to prepare and focus to prevent accidents. Brush up on these winter driving safety tips to avoid trouble on the road:
- Watch the weather. One way that drivers can limit their liability in the winter is to plan trips in relatively good weather. Be alert and stay up to date on changing weather and traffic reports in order to anticipate and avoid stormy roadways. New smartphones and tablets make this even easier with real-time wireless weather updates (just be sure not to check while driving).
- Slow down. A little more caution makes a lot of difference when roads are slick. Slowing down by 5 mph or more, and driving on low-speed roads, will help limit you potential for damage in a collision. Keeping more car lengths between vehicles gives you more time for any sudden stop too.
- Know Your Extras. This is a big one for those driving newer, more tech-equipped vehicles: it's critically important to understand how your safety features work. The biggest example? Anti-lock brakes. Where tapping brakes works for controlling skid in traditional braking, pumping ABS can be dangerous. Road safety experts and law enforcement professionals know that anti-lock brakes and other features are no substitute for safe stopping distances and reasonable speeds - and that goes for other high-tech features like traction control as well. Even some more traditional features of a vehicle can be confusing - for example, experts warn against using cruise control on slick roads.
- Condition Your Vehicle For Winter. In some states that get the most winter weather, drivers are allowed to put on items like tire chains or tire studs to add traction. In other states, these additions are illegal because they can tear up roads. Check with your state DMV to see whether these winter preparations are appropriate where you live. And, no matter what state you're in, it's a good idea to keep tires at proper inflation.
Another major part of maintenance is directly related to winter: drivers should take care to remove troublesome ice from the windshield and windows, and big drifts of snow from the hood and cabin top, in order to prevent problems with visibility.
- Stock A Winter Emergency Kit. In the event that you do have to pull over during a major storm or find yourself with a broken-down vehicle, be prepared with a winter emergency kit. Recommended items include: a flashlight and batteries, hand-warmers, blankets, drinking water, shovel and ice scraper, jumper cables, and standalone emergency lights or flares.
All of these helpful driving tips can assist drivers in keeping themselves and others safe this winter.