Part 2 of 2 – Making the Drive
Preparing before you drive in winter conditions is important (see Part 1), but it’s equally important to practice safety when you’re on the road. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind while you’re driving this season:
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
When you’re driving in harsh Winter conditions, you may need more fuel than normal to get to your destination or to stay warm. Keep your gas tank near full just in case.
Pull Over and Rest Often
On long trips, build in time to stop more often to refresh yourself, eat, or stretch. If you feel yourself getting drowsy it’s vital to rest and change drivers. If road conditions are hazardous, pull over and avoid driving until road and weather conditions improve. You don’t need to take unnecessary risks.
Monitor Windshield Fluid Levels
You’ll blow through a lot of windshield wiper in Winter weather conditions. It’s important to keep extra fluid in your trunk and check the levels often so you don’t suddenly run out on the road. Make sure to use high-quality “winter” fluid with de-icer.
Roads covered with snow or ice can make it harder to control your vehicle. Make sure to:
- Drive during the day to increase your visibility.
- Don’t text while driving.
- Obey the speed limits and drive slower than normal.
- Increase your following distance so you have more time to stop.
- Know what kind of brake system your vehicle has so you can break correctly. If your car has an antilock brake system, you need to apply continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have antilock brakes, you may need to pump your brakes to stop on slick roads.
- Stick to main roads and highways on your drive, as side roads can be uneven or unplowed.
Drive Safely Near Snowplows
Snow plows require extra attention on the road because they travel slowly, stop often, overlap lanes, turn wide and exit the road frequently. Keep in mind that a snow plow operator has a limited field of vision. The plow can also kick up a cloud of snow that will instantly turn your visibility to zero. When navigating around snowplows:
- Stay behind a plow or pass cautiously. If you do stay behind, don’t follow too closely.
- Don’t travel beside plows.
- Never drive into a snow plow’s debris cloud because it can conceal hazards or other vehicles.
What to Do in a Winter Emergency
If your vehicle stalls, gets stuck or breaks down on the road this Winter, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Stay with your car.
- Keep the interior dome light turned on and put bright markers on the outside of the vehicle to make it visible for rescuers.
- Don’t keep your car running for long periods of time (especially with the windows up). If you must run your car to stay warm, clear the exhaust pipe of snow or ice and run it periodically (10 minutes every hour)
- If a blizzard hits, pull off the highway, stay in your car and turn on your hazard lights. Hang a distress flag or sticker on the antenna or on windows.