Whether we like it or not, winter is on its way. With the cold, snowy weather approaching, there’s plenty to think about: getting your home ready for the season, digging sweaters and scarves out from the back of the closet… and navigating potentially hazardous weather for the next few months. If you’re hoping to brush up on your winter driving skills before snow storms and icy roads hit your area, keep reading. We’ve pulled together some tips and advice to help you and your passengers stay safe on the roads this winter.
Prep your car:
Just like you rake the leaves off of your lawn and weather strip your windows before the snow hits, you should take some steps to prepare your vehicle. Now is the time to bring your vehicle in to have winter tires put on, and consider having it tuned up while you’re at it. Cold weather can effect battery life, and issues with little things like foggy or burnt-out headlights, old wiper blades, and other small maintenance issues are a lot more difficult when it’s cold and dark outside, so it’s better to get them fixed preemptively.
Hit the lights:
In the winter, it’s more important than ever to stay visible on the road. Professionals with Stones Town & Country Motors recommend checking your headlights before the winter starts, and being aware of whether or not your vehicle has automatic headlights or daytime running lights. If not, you should make sure to put on your headlights when you drive, even during the day. Visibility can be limited in the winter, especially during a storm. Cars with a light neutral paint color (like grey or white) can be especially difficult to see. If you’re driving through a heavy snow storm, particularly if you’re driving significantly slower than the usual speed of traffic, it might also be a good idea to put on your hazard lights. Another thing to keep in mind in the winter is shorter days. Your morning or evening commute ay have been perfectly sunny a few weeks ago, but soon it could be dusky, or even dark, and you may need headlights or high beams at a time of day when you’re not used to needing them.
Take your time:
Slow and steady is the best way to drive in the winter. Any sudden braking or acceleration will make your vehicle more likely to slip or skid. Give yourself more time than usual to come to a stop or get up to the speed of traffic, and then ease on to the brake or gas evenly. Remember that everything takes more time in the snow, so you might not have as much time to pull out onto a busy road or slow down before a red light. Don’t hesitate to stay in the slower lane of the highway or pull over to let someone pass you on the road if you think they’re following you too closely or making you feel pressured to speed up. In general, everyone around you should be understanding. After all, they’re all just trying to stay safe in the weather as well.
Know when to stay in:
No matter how confident you are in your winter driving skills and your vehicle’s capability, there are some days when it’s just not safe to drive. Some general tips for identifying days when you should stay in: Keep an eye on school closings. If schools in your area are closing, that means that conditions will be bad enough that schools don’t want students or employees on the roads, so maybe you should follow suit. Also, consider your trips out and back. Heading to the mall or a friend’s house might seem like a good idea on a morning with little snow, but an afternoon storm could leave you stranded! Look at the forecast for the whole day, and especially pay attention to the time you’d most likely be heading back home.