There’s no denying the fact that wintertime driving can prove to be very hazardous for drivers. If you live in a region that receives a lot of adverse weather conditions like snow and ice, then you’ll need to be very mindful of how you’re driving when these conditions happen. By implementing the tips and precautions that we’re going to go over below, you can help to stay safe in even the worst of wintertime roadway conditions.
Preparing Your Vehicle for Wintertime Roadways
As the cold winter weather approaches, you may be planning your holiday travels and determining what gifts you’ll be getting. However, you need to make preparing your vehicle for winter conditions a top priority to ensure that you and your family stay safe on your roadway travels.
Keep Your Tires Adequately Inflated
As the outside temperature drops, so does the air pressure in your vehicle’s tires. You should make it a habit to check their level every few weeks and before any major long-distance road trips. Make sure that they’re inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure level. You can typically find this recommendation written on the side of the tire.
Consider Investing in Winter Tires
The tread pattern on your tires can make a real difference in how your vehicle grips that roadway during snow, ice, and even rain. To ensure optimal grip during adverse wintertime weather conditions, consider investing in winter tread and all-terrain tires. If your current tires are over six years old, it’s time to consider getting new ones.
Inspect Your Wipers and Windshield Washer Fluid
When roadway salt gets thrown onto your windshield and dries under the heat of the sun, it can create an unwanted white film that can make it extremely difficult to see. You’ll want to ensure that your windshield washer fluid is full so that you can easily clean your windshield when you’re having difficulty seeing. Additionally, make sure that you inspect your windshield wiper blades and consider upgrading to new heavy-duty winter wipers.
Stock Your Vehicle With Wintertime Essentials
Before the winter weather hits, you’ll want to stock your vehicle up on all of the supplies you need for driving-related tasks, breakdowns, and getting your car ready to leave in the morning. Common necessities include a snow brush, ice scraper, sand, jumper cables, flashlight, blankets, food, and water.
Keep Your Vehicle Gassed Up
Make it a habit to stop by the gas pumps more often than usual. You don’t want to let your vehicle drop below a quarter of a tank. Ideally, you don’t want to let it go below half of a tank. You never know when you may get stuck in the snow or behind an accident. You don’t want to be stuck in a cold car that is out of gas.
Make Sure Your Exhaust Pipe Isn’t Clogged
When a lot of snow comes down, it can end up blocking your vehicle’s exhaust pipe. When there’s a lot of snow, take a moment to check the back of your vehicle to ensure that there is no snow lodged in your tailpipe. If you run your vehicle with snow stuck in your exhaust pipe, it can allow dangerous carbon monoxide to seep into the cabin of your vehicle. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be extremely dangerous and even deadly in some cases.
Replace Your Cabin’s Air Filter
Another necessary task to properly prepare your vehicle for optimal working conditions in the wintertime is to replace the air filter in its cabin. Over time, your cabin filter can become clogged with unwanted debris and dust. This can make it much harder for your car to deliver the heat that it generates to the cabin of your vehicle. By changing your cabin’s air filter just before winter, you can ensure that you receive optimal airflow from your heating system.
Proper Wintertime Driving Etiquette
Driving during adverse wintertime weather conditions is much different than driving during the warmer summer months. There are various driving tips that you’ll want to utilize when traveling the roadways during snowy, icy, and other unfavorable wintertime conditions.
Get Your Battery Tested
When the weather gets cold, your car’s battery has to work harder to start your car. Unfortunately, if your battery is already on its last leg, all it can take is a cold winter day to prevent it from starting again. You can help to prevent this issue by having your battery tested prior to wintertime. If a replacement is recommended, do so before the temperatures starts to dip back down.
Always Plan for More Driving Time
There’s nothing worse than dealing with driving in bad weather and knowing that you’re running late to your destination. Do yourself a huge favor and schedule extra driving time for all of your trips. This will ensure that you’re not in a rush and are better able to focus solely on the roadway. Additionally, if you do run into a problem or get stuck in slow-moving traffic, it’s not a big deal.
Take Your Foot Off the Pedal
One of the biggest causes of accidents in the wintertime is speeding. While speeding is never smart, to begin with, because it’s against Texas law, it’s really dangerous in the wintertime. All it takes is a little bit of snow, and your vehicle can go flying dangerously into another lane or off of the roadway. Keep your foot off of the pedal and make sure that you have more time to react to any problem that may lie ahead of you before you’re on top of it.
Keep a Distance of Three Car Lengths
When you’re driving in snowy or icy conditions, it’s going to take longer to slow down. Also, other drivers may need to break or maneuver quickly, which can be a real problem for you if you’re right behind them. Make it a rule to always stay about three car lengths behind the car in front of you while driving in wintertime conditions. This will give you extra time to stop when necessary to avoid a collision.
Avoid Driving If Possible
Many times, most weather channels will alert you of wintertime storms many days in advance. One of the best things that you can do to stay safe is to avoid driving altogether. If possible, ask to work from home for the day. Simply avoiding dangerous roads will help to keep you from being a victim of a vehicle accident in adverse weather conditions.
Know How to Regain Control
When you make a mistake behind the wheel and find yourself spinning or sliding in the wintertime, you need to know what to do to regain control over your vehicle. Make sure that you fully remove your foot from the accelerator, as going faster isn’t going to help anything.
You want to avoid making any sudden maneuvers and keep steady pressure on your anti-lock brakes. If your rear wheels lock up, turn your steering wheel in the direction that you want to go. If your front wheels lock up, let your steering wheel move freely. Once your vehicle slows down, go ahead and regain control of your steering wheel.
Always Take Time to Defrost Your Windows
One big liability when behind the wheel in the wintertime is having frosted windows. It may seem important to leave before your windshield defrosts to get to your destination on time. However, that can lead to a big problem. As your vehicle starts moving down the roadway, the cold air can cause your window to frost up completely. This can make seeing where you’re going almost impossible. Avoid this whole problem by allowing your front and back windshields to fully defrost before you leave your parking spot.
Drive Strategically When Near Snow Plows
Snow plows are a necessary benefit to keep the roadways relatively safe during the wintertime. However, they tend to travel in specific ways that can be different than other vehicles. Snow plows tend to make very wide turns, switch lanes, overlap lanes, exit the roadway, stop often, and travel at a slow speed.
If you’re behind a snow plow, give it room to maneuver. If there is a snow plow in another lane that is traveling in the same direction as your vehicle, avoid riding beside it. Under no circumstances should you attempt to pass a snow plow. Realize that the roadway conditions in front of them are going to be relatively poor and can cause accidents.
Rid Your Car of Distractions
It’s not unusual to be talking on your phone or singing to the radio while you’re driving down the roadway. However, when adverse weather conditions arise, it’s time to cut out the distractions and focus. Consider turning your phone on silent mode, so you’re not tempted to answer it or read a text message while you’re driving. Avoid putting on any podcasts or audiobooks that can take your mind off of driving.
Clean Off Your Lights
Your car has a lot of lights, and they can be easily obstructed by snow and ice. Take the time to fully clear off your headlights, taillights, and brake lights. This will ensure that they’re working at their fullest potential so that you can see when driving and other drivers can adequately see you on the roadway.
It’s well worth taking the time to properly prepare your vehicle for the wintertime weather and do your best to follow safe driving protocols. However, no matter how safe you try to be, there’s always the possibility that you may be involved in a roadway accident. If you find yourself in that position, be sure to contact a licensed attorney to ensure that your case goes smoothly.