Driving in Winter Weather
Winter weather has arrived. That means freezing temperatures, snow and ice. Driving in these conditions takes extra caution and awareness. There are many measures that drivers can take in order to be prepared when inclement weather hits. Use these tips to ensure that you will stay safe when you get caught driving in adverse weather conditions.
Check Weather Reports Before Driving
The easiest way to be prepared for winter weather is to know what to expect. If you've heard there may be chance of snow or ice, take a look at your local weather and road conditions before heading out on the road. This way you will know ahead of time how cautious you will need to be and if there are any other hazards you need to watch out for. Use your discretion. If the weather reports or road conditions sound too severe, it may be best to just stay where you are.
Be Sure All Snow and Ice is Cleared off Your Car
Wintery conditions already make visibility hard enough. You don't need snow and ice on your windows and windshield making it even harder to see. Don't use hot water to try and remove ice. The cold weather and hot water together could easily crack your windshield. Be sure to clear snow completely off of your vehicle before driving - this includes the roof and doors as well as the windows and windshield. Loose snow can fly off into your or another driver's windshield while on the road. Also be sure that you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid in your car. Salt on the roads and dirty slush may make seeing even harder than snow or ice.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
Make sure you have a half tank of gas or more when road conditions are bad, or even when temperatures are low. You never want to be left sitting in the cold because your tank is on empty. Keeping a full tank of gas will also keep your gas lines from freezing up.
There are some drivers that think they can drive as fast in the snow as they do when the pavement is dry. Misjudging how fast you can go can lead to accident. Braking takes much longer when the roads are snowy or icy, and the faster you are going the harder it will be to brake quickly in an emergency. Even four-wheel-drive vehicles can run into trouble in wintery conditions. Drivers of these vehicle should take just as much caution and slow down just as a standard two-wheel-drive vehicle would.
Bring the Necessary Supplies
There are a few things you won't want to be without in the case of an emergency.
A blanket (or a few) - If you ever do break down and have to wait for help a blanket will keep you warmer longer than a coat and body heat.
Ice Scraper and Snow Brush - These two are pretty obvious, but they are a must-have for winter. You don't ever want to be caught in a situation where you have no way of cleaning off your car.
Flashlight - This is another item in case of breakdown. A flashlight will ensure you aren't without light and will help you get your car up and running faster. It is also a way to flag down help if the car can't be fixed at the time of your breakdown.
Hand Warmers - This is one many don't normally think of, but you will be very happy for them if you ever break down in the cold. They can be purchased at camping and outdoor stores. Smashing the bag will cause a chemical reaction the creates warmth that lasts for a few hours. If you're stuck for awhile hand warmers could save your fingers from frost bite.
Flares - This item should be in your car in all types of weather, but particularly in winter. These can be used to put next to your car if you have broken down on the side of the road to alert other motorists that might not see you otherwise.
Bottled Water and Snack Bars - No one wants to be stuck for hours after breaking down, but it is best to be prepared for the worst. If your heater isn't working and temperatures are below freezing, food and water will keep you nourished and alert until help comes.