During the winter months, driving conditions can become hazardous as the weather becomes less predictable. In extreme conditions, it is better to stay off the roads altogether; however, this is not always possible. There are several essential steps you can take to lessen your risk.
Know Your Own Vehicle
You need to be aware of what conditions your car can safely handle. You may have anti-lock brakes, all-wheel drive, and all-weather tires, and while all of these features are valuable, don’t be fooled into thinking your vehicle is accident-proof in bad weather. Becoming too confident in your vehicle’s ability to respond to wintry road conditions is a sure fire way to find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Check Tire Pressure Monthly
Keep your car’s tires inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations for best performance on icy roads. Changes in temperature can have an effect on your tire’s pressure per square inch, making pressure checks mandatory during the winter months. Extra benefits of proper tire inflation are better gas mileage and longer tire life.
Perform Battery Check-ups
Cold days can slow down the chemical reaction in your vehicle’s battery, which in turn, decreases power output. Always be sure that your car’s battery is fully charged before braving the wintry elements.
Stay Mentally Engaged
Especially in hazardous weather, stay fully focused when you drive. Keep your eyes on the road ahead so that you can anticipate hazards. Exercise extra caution on bridges, overpasses, and heavily shaded areas. Put your phone away, and focus fully on the task at hand.
Exercise Extra Caution at Intersections and Stop Signs
Intersections can become deceptively treacherous during the winter months. Snow tends to become packed in these areas, and can develop a slick, icy surface. To compensate, approach intersections slowly and begin braking sooner than you would in normal driving conditions.
Plan Ahead Regarding How and When You will Travel
Plan travel times during the daylight hours, and wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect yourself from ice and snow glare. Take the most direct route to your destination, and allow extra travel time so that you are not tempted to drive fast in unfavorable conditions.
Keep Your Vehicle Stocked with Emergency Provisions
Put a blanket, snacks, and water in the trunk of your car to tide you over if you become stranded. Keep emergency flares and a flash light on hand as well.