When winter weather strikes, drivers face out-of-the-ordinary challenges when they get behind the wheel. Snow, slush or icy roads are involved in nearly 1 in 4 weather-related vehicle crashes. These conditions can make it harder for drivers to see, slow down and stop – all factors that can increase the chances of an accident.
If you must travel during winter weather, preparing your car in advance, knowing the forecast and slowing down are three key ways to help you drive more safely.
Here are some winter driving safety tips to help you prepare for the elements – before you face them – on the road.
Preparing your vehicle
- Make sure your car is stocked with a winter driving survival kit, including an ice scraper, a snow shovel and sand or salt.
- Check your tires to determine whether it’s time to replace them or whether you need snow tires.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full so you can run your engine and stay warm if you get stuck or stranded.
- Keep your windshield wipers in good condition and your windshield fluid reservoir filled so you can clear snow and ice from your windshield.
Driving in winter conditions
- Take time to clear snow and ice off your car, including your windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk BEFORE leaving your parking space.
- Drive with your headlights on, and be sure to keep them clean to improve visibility.
- Remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. You should reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen.
- Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy.
Remember, driving in winter weather can be challenging, even for experienced drivers. Slowing down, allowing increased time to come to a stop, wearing your seatbelt, devoting your full attention to the road and being aware of changing conditions can help you drive more safely.