Before you start driving in your automobile, always remember to fasten your safety belts, and clean snow and ice off of your windshield, wiper blades, and exterior car lights. Winter driving is different from driving on dry pavement (for all types of vehicles including four-wheel drive vehicles, SUV's, and all-wheel drive vehicles. Roads become narrower due to snow pushed on the sides of the road, icy spots are 10 times more slippery than dry pavement, and visibility can be poor due to blowing snow. As a driver you must reduce your speed and increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you to improve response time.
Some additional recommendations include the following:
- In blowing snow or fog, use your low beam headlights rather than high beams.
- When slowing down, pump your car brakes in short repeated strokes--THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO AN ANTI-LOCKING (ABS) BRAKING SYSTEM.
- On slippery hills, do not "gun" the motor. Negotiate hills slow and easy!
- If you get stuck, clear a path with a shovel in front and in back of your vehicle, put sand or gravel on the cleared path, and slowly accelerate (with a standard transmission-rock try rocking back and forth to get free) without spinning the tires.
Always remember to remain calm and to avoid over-exerting yourself.
Driving in winter storms:
The leading cause of death during winter storms is automobile or other transportation accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road, are keys to safe winter driving.
Winterize your car:
- Check battery and ignition system
- Check anti-freeze level and the thermostat
- Check wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Check heater and defroster
- Check oil level and grade
- Check exhaust system
- Install good winter tires with adequate tread
- Carry a windshield scraper and small broom for snow and ice removal
- Maintain at least one half tank of gas in your vehicle
Plan long trips carefully:
- Check road conditions before you travel
- Let friends or relatives know your route (whenever possible)
- Travel during daylight hours (whenever possible)
Carry a winter car care kit:
- Several blankets or sleeping bags
- Two empty coffee cans (one for sanitation, and the other to burn a candle)
- Flashlights and extra batteries, matches, and candles
- First-aid kit with pocket knife
- A small sack of sand to generate traction
- A small shovel and tire chains
- Distress flares as well as a bright cloth to use as a flag
Winter tire & driving tips:
- For the best traction in severe snow and icy conditions, use reinforced tire chains.
- Even if you drive with snow or all weather tires, keep a set of chains in your trunk.
- Keep the tire pressure at the recommended level.
- When you are stuck, some slight deflating may help your traction by placing more tread on the surface road, however this will increase tire wear.
- If you do slightly deflate tire pressure for traction, re-inflate the tires to the recommended pressure as soon as possible. You can add extra weight in the trunk of a rear-wheel drive vehicle to help traction.
- If you add weight for traction, make sure the weight is stationary, otherwise the vehicle may be more prone to spin outs.
- Place the weight as close as possible to the drive wheels. Weight in the trunk of a front-wheel drive car is not necessary!
- Do not spin your tires, because this causes friction that turns snow into ice, which will causes your automobile to get stuck even further.