We are well into December, which means it’s only a matter of time until the white stuff starts falling. You might love the idea of a white Christmas or snow day to hit your favorites sledding spot, but winter driving isn’t much fun. In fact, it can be pretty dangerous. Winter storms and sloppy road conditions are a factor in more than half a million crashes every winter, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Since winter driving is inevitable, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you have to go out.
- Start and Stop Slowly
If you’ve ever tried to stomp on the gas to get going up an icy hill, you know that you’ll just spin your wheels. Similarly, slamming on the brakes can cause you to slip and slide. To get moving on slippery roads, accelerate slowly to gain traction. And when you need to come to a stop, let off the gas and apply the brakes steadily.
- Keep a Winter Weather Kit in Your Vehicle
In the event you get stalled out in cold or snowy weather, having cold-weather gear can be a lifesaver. Blankets, warm clothing, a flashlight, an ice scraper, and food and weather are good ideas to keep in your vehicle.
- Check the Weather Before You Leave
If planning a long-distance road trip, make sure to check the weather for any possible bad conditions and delay your trip if possible.
- Get Your Car Serviced
Getting your car checked and serviced before winter weather sets in is a proactive way to help you stay safe. Visit your mechanic for a tune up so they can check vital systems and parts.
- If Your Vehicle Gets Stuck in the Snow
- Make yourself visible by using a dome light if it is night or heavy snow. This will help rescuers locate you. Also, you can roll a bright-colored fabric in the window to help signal help.
- Don’t overexert yourself when trying to dig your vehicle out. Listen to your body and take a break if needed.
- Keep the exhaust pipe clear. Make sure there isn’t snow, ice, or mud blocking the exhaust pipe. A clogged exhaust can leak carbon monoxide back into the vehicle when running.
- Stay with your vehicle. Don’t try to walk in snowy or blizzard conditions. It is easy to become disoriented and lost due to low visibility, in addition to vehicles not being able to see you. Stay in your vehicle.
The most important safety tip no matter the weather is always wear your seatbelt! And ensure that everyone else in your vehicle is buckled-up in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seat belts.
If you do find yourself in an accident, make sure the police are called, everyone is checked for injuries, information between drivers is exchanged, and you call your insurance agent to start the claims process.