While the chilly winter months are ideal for indoor activities, the season can actually be a great time to get out and about with the family, if you do it right.
Winter traveling means more chances to snuggle with your loved ones and take in gorgeous, snow-capped scenery. But it also comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Whether you’re taking a holiday trip with a loved one or just hitting up winter shopping sales, here are some tips for staying safe on the road in snowy or icy conditions.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Maintenance is Up to Date
Cold temperatures and winter weather can wreak havoc on your vehicle, so you should be prepared for anything, well in advance if possible. In most urban areas, you won’t need snow tires, but you should check your tire tread before temperatures drop to freezing. Consider replacing tires that are worn beyond 5/32 inches of tread depth.
The transmission is often overlooked in conversations about vehicle maintenance, and that’s a huge mistake when it comes to inclement winter weather. Your transmission should seamlessly switch between gears, without slipping. Experts recommend that every vehicle’s transmission should be serviced every 30,000 miles, or more often if you own an older vehicle.
Use Common Sense When Behind the Wheel
Along with maintenance, roadway safety best practices can go a long way in winter driving conditions. Avoid following other vehicles too closely since you may need to brake suddenly on wet or icy roads, which can cause your vehicle to slip or skid.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers cultivate a keen understanding of how their vehicle handles before hitting the road in inclement winter weather. Wipe dirt, snow, and ice from sensors, mirrors, and windows, and make sure that all of your lights are in working order.
If you have little ones in tow, make sure to also inspect their car seats. Ensure that booster seats are secured properly and that seatbelts haven’t loosened over time.
Think Like a Prepper: Prepare for Every Situation
Keep your vehicle’s gas tank as close to full as possible in case of emergency. If you’re stuck in your vehicle for an extended period of time, you may have to keep the engine running and the heater on. Along with filling your vehicle’s gas tank, you should also consider putting together an emergency kit that’s winter weather specific.
Stock your kit with basic first aid supplies as well as hand warmers, a flashlight or headlamp, a small amount of non-perishable food, and several bottles of water. If you get stranded, your emergency kit may just save your life, or at least keep you from getting dehydrated.
Speaking of being stranded, what happens if your vehicle is stuck under snowdrift? Vehicles that are buried under snow are at risk of flood and water damage as the snow melts. If your vehicle has been damaged by water or snowmelt, do not try to start it until the electronic components are completely dry, or you’ve talked to your auto insurance company.
Anything can happen on snowy and icy roadways, so smart drivers should prepare for the unexpected, especially when little ones are your passengers. Even in major cities with good road maintenance and prompt snow removal, cold weather can compound roadway dangers, especially in icy conditions or when black ice is present. But with a little bit of preparation and vehicle maintenance, winter weather won’t stop you from getting around.
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Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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