Winter storm warnings and advisories are already being issued for many parts of the country. While snow and ice might be pretty to look at, driving in it is a whole different story. Wintry weather conditions can be tricky for even the most experienced driver and can change in an instant. Driving in these conditions should be taken seriously and approached as safely as possible. If you have new drivers in your household make sure they know the basics of winter driving before heading out on the road. Below are some tips that we all can benefit from.
Prepare for the worst
Everyone should have some basic items in their vehicle in case they find themselves stranded. Try to have at least a few of the following items: flashlight, extra batteries, blanket, water and/or Gatorade, food items such as granola bars, peanut butter, or raisins, extra jacket/coat, tire chains, jumper cables, gloves and/or shovel. An external charger for your phone would also be handy to have as well in case your vehicle will not start.
Stay up to date with conditions around you
In today’s world, there is no shortage of information. News and weather updates are just one click away. Take advantage of that by utilizing online resources to help you stay informed. Sites like wunderground.com, weather.gov or weather.com are informative and reliable. Users can download the app and make the notifications more specific to a location. They also allow you view current weather conditions easily and quickly. You can also purchase a NOAA weather radio for around $20-$40.
Check your equipment
Pre-trip inspections are a great way to make sure your equipment/car is good condition. In unfavorable weather conditions we encourage you to complete a pre, mid and post trip inspection. This will help you catch any potential issues and address them before they become a problem. Professional drivers should have a full set of tire chains in good condition. Diesel fuel will start gelling at around 32 degrees. At 10-15 degrees, it will start to gel and clog the tank and fuel filters. Make sure you are using appropriate fuel additives to prevent this from happening. For the general motoring public, you should make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition, check your lights and scrape any ice/snow off before traveling and check your tires.
Remember, ice and snow decrease the traction of your tires which makes sudden stops and even turns more difficult. Never speed on ice and increase your following distance. Black ice is transparent and often looks like the road is just wet. When temperatures are near freezing, be extra cautious and on the lookout for black ice.