Winter Driving Tips
When temperatures fall below freezing and precipitation makes roads slippery, driving can be both stressful and dangerous. Motorists should know what they can do to remain safer when winter driving is a necessity as well as how to deal with winter road emergencies. CJ’s Tire and Automotive and AAA reminds motorists to be cautious while driving in adverse weather conditions and recommends the following driving tips:
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated. Your tire pressure will decrease about 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit the outside temperature drops.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
- If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
- Always look and steer where you want to go.
- Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
- Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival. Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having CJ’s conduct a winter season safety inspection.
If you must travel during a winter storm, accelerate and decelerate slowly. Gently pushing the gas pedal to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Take your time; don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight, remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. Unless you have to, don’t stop completely. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop, versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, or you can maneuver around an obstacle, do it.
Don’t power up hills. Applying too much gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. There’s nothing worse than trying to accelerate on an icy hill. Once you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down a hill as slowly as possible.
Be sure to take along a fully charged cell phone, plus pack up blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle…just in case. If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle, as it provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This includes: floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Don’t try to walk in a bad storm, it’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, turn your 4 way flashers on to make it easier for rescuers to find you. If your battery starts to die, you will see the lights dim in enough time to turn the car on and recharge the battery. Don’t over exert yourself, if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill. Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
However, the best winter storm driving tip is this: Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, remember not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate, if you don’t have somewhere that you absolutely need to be, stay put and enjoy the winter weather from indoors.
CJ's Tire & Automotive - Better. Faster. More Affordable.