Well, it hap­pens every year, the first snow comes and many peo­ple on the road seem to for­get how to dri­ve or find them­selves ill-pre­pared to deal with a minor (or major) cat­a­stro­phe. Hav­ing expe­ri­enced win­ter dri­ving knuck­le­heads just a few days ago, I fig­ured I would write a blog arti­cle with some win­ter dri­ving and all-around vehi­cle tips to help some of you out. These are in no par­tic­u­lar order, but each has mer­it.

  1. Make sure you have a decent win­ter kit of tools and sup­plies every time you ven­ture out in your car in the win­ter. Check back to the blog for a future arti­cle on what win­ter items you should have with you in case of an emer­gency.
  2. Make sure tires are prop­er­ly inflat­ed. Most tires have some sort of ice cuts into the rub­ber (called scip­ing). Those tiny lit­tle sliv­ers fill with mois­ture or snow or ice and help with trac­tion on slip­pery roads. If tires aren’t prop­er­ly inflat­ed those cuts cant per­form as they are designed. Also, a well inflat­ed tire can cut through snow bet­ter and cre­ate a hard pack under­neath… a low-pres­sure tire spreads out and does­n’t allow snow (or any oth­er medi­um) to pack well.
  3. Beware of black ice. A sec­tion of road that looks wet may actu­al­ly be frozen if the tem­per­a­ture has been cold enough for water from the snowmelt to refreeze. Black ice is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict but a good indi­ca­tor is the air tem­per­a­ture. If it is any­where near freez­ing, there is a good chance the con­di­tions exist for black ice. It’s bet­ter to make it to your des­ti­na­tion late and in one piece so dri­ving slow­ly in such con­di­tions is com­plete­ly under­stand­able.
  4. Make sure win­dows are defrost­ed and clear. Use an ice scraper and brush to clear the major­i­ty of ice and snow from your win­dows but also keep your vehi­cle’s heat on with a fan on the defrost set­ting. And be sure to clear snow and ice from the top of the vehi­cle! Debris falling off of your vehi­cle may impact oth­er cars caus­ing dam­age or sim­ply caus­ing an unsafe dri­ving con­di­tion.
  5. Make sure you have ade­quate wind­shield wipers and wash­er flu­id. Regard­less of how well you clean your win­dows, mois­ture and dirt get kicked up from oth­er vehi­cles while dri­ving and can impair your abil­i­ty to see. Replace wash­er flu­id and worn wipers as nec­es­sary… and don’t use them spar­ing­ly, keep your win­dows clean!
  6. Avoid dri­ving while sick or on some kind of med­ica­tion. This would seem to be a no-brain­er but often peo­ple fail to read the warn­ing “do not oper­ate heavy machin­ery” on pre­scrip­tion and over-the-counter meds. Dri­ving in win­try con­di­tions can be treach­er­ous enough, don’t com­pli­cate things more by extend­ing your reac­tion time.
  7. Take turns slow­ly. You may have four or all-wheel dri­ve but the extra trac­tion afford­ed only works when the tires are pulling the vehi­cle for­ward… it does noth­ing to slow the vehi­cle or help it through a turn when the brake is being applied.

I hope this list helps some of you out. If you have any oth­er win­ter dri­ving or car safe­ty tips, sound off in the com­ments

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