Now that winter is officially here, I find myself wondering if we’re going to get “pounded” with massive amounts of snow anytime soon. And I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not a big fan of the cold and I don’t necessarily look forward to these beatings.
Practically everyone I know loves the snow (not that I hate it) I just don’t like what comes with it—like all the extra time you need to get somewhere, cleaning and scraping your car, the layers and layers of jackets and clothes and hats and scarves, the messiness, the sloppiness, the coldness and not to mention driving in it.
And speaking of driving in it, to me there’s nothing worse than some show off in an SUV who buzzes right by you, going 40 mph, on slick roads. (I don’t even do this, and I drive one.) Honestly, I don’t think anyone should be exempt from taking safety precautions on the road in the winter time, or any time for that matter.
So what goes on internally with your car in the winter time? I swear I hear at least one story a year about someone getting stranded in their car during a brutal snowstorm. What would you do if your car suddenly gave out and you got stranded? Here are some helpful hints (from winterdrivingsafety.com) to not only avoid this from happening to you, but to also be prepared just in case it does.
Test your battery. Did you know that batteries can lose up to 40 percent of their power in the cold? Although it’s recommended that you check your battery before winter starts, it’s never a bad idea to do so at any time.
Be sure to check your fluids, breaks, shocks and struts. It’s a no-brainer that these work together as a team, and each and every component is important. Obviously, you need good breaks to stop, especially on slick roads. And might I add that if you have worn shocks and struts, your tires “gripping ability” may be reduced.
And of course, you’ll need new wiper blades. Harsh conditions already make our visibility quite challenging, so why make it harder? Also, always try to warm-up your car (not unattended of course). I know it’s easy to just get in and take off, but it’s not good to drive your car “cold”—it’s bad for your engine overall.
So are you ready to do some driving now that you’ve got the preventatives down? Here are a few more tips that might help you when you’re behind the wheel…
Breaking techniques. Maybe you’ve heard it before or maybe you haven’t, but with traditional breaking systems, it’s best to “pump” your breaks (lifting your foot on and off the break-pedal) if you’re in trouble. The difference with ABS is “by pressing the brake pedal as hard as possible and holding it there allows the computer to pump the brakes while still maintaining some steering effectiveness” (wintersafetydriving.com).
How are the road conditions? When you’re alone, try pressing on your breaks until your wheels lock up. By this, you might have a good idea of what you’re in for during your commute. Also, give yourself plenty of space between your car and other vehicles, and always be on the lookout for any obstacles further on down the road that may put your safety at risk.
Leave your headlamps on low beam at night. This can improve your visibility by reducing reflection and glare. And turn on your headlights on in the daytime (that’s if they don’t automatically do so already). Not only does this help you to see, but it also allows others to see you as well. But most importantly, make sure your car and lights are thoroughly cleaned off before you go.
And last but not least, always be prepared for the worst. Unfortunately, sometimes things happen beyond our control—no matter how careful we think we are. You never know what might happen when you’re on the road in bad conditions. There might be long detours, road closures or accidents that could leave you sitting in your car for hours—so it’s best to always have an extra set of heavy winter clothes, blankets, *emergency supplies, food, water, cell phone charger, shovel, kitty litter, flashlight (with extra batteries), tow strap, and jumper cables.
You can find these safety tips along with many others at wintersafetydriving.com
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a guide without the opinion of an automotive/defensive driving professional.