Precautions to Take when Driving During Winter Weather
Many people may like the holiday seasons, but we’re willing to bet that few enjoy driving in the winter. Really, who does? Winter driving is like doing the dishes and taking out the trash. It’s something that often has to be done, but no one enjoys doing. With snow, ice, fog, and the frigid cold temperatures, driving during the winter months is never fun. Still, when you do have to drive out in and in winter conditions, you’ll need to stay safe. We here at Pickering Volkswagen have prepared a helpful list of winter driving safety tips for you to follow. It’s a quick read and it may save you from an accident and a big bill at an auto shop.
Before You Start Driving
- Check weather reports to see how conditions will be. It’s a good idea to check hours before driving, preferably the night before.
- Don’t drive when you don’t have to. Winter roads are dangerous. Unless it’s a necessity, stay safe and stay home.
- Be properly rested. Nothing is more dangerous than driving while fatigued and tired. It’s even worse in winter conditions. You need to be careful and attentive.
- Keep your gas tank at no less than half full. Letting your tank be mostly empty during the cold increases the chance for your gas line to freeze and break.
When You’re Driving
- Apply the gas slowly, and apply the brakes slowly. If you try too fast you won’t catch any traction. This means that too fast on the gas pedal will waste fuel, and too fast on the brakes will make your car spin out of control.
- Don’t use cruise control in winter. Cruise control works on flat, dry land. Using cruise control on wet, slippery, bumpy, and/or uneven roads and surfaces is an accident waiting to happen.
- Don’t use your parking brake in winter. Unless completely necessary, avoid using your parking brake. In extremely cold temperatures, the parking brake can fail when in use. Not to mention, its effectiveness is greatly reduced on slick surfaces such as snow and ice.
- Check your mirrors and blind spots. Visibility is even greater reduced in winter. Make sure to check that any turn or lane-change you make is into an open position.
- Always watch where you’re going. This may seem like simple advice, but not following it causes many accidents. Looking behind you or checking your blind spot should be done before you turn, but doing it while moving your car can ignore a potential accident in front of you.
- Keep your distance. Other driving might not be paying attention or can’t see you. Stay away and give yourself room to brake or maneuver around them to prevent a crash.
Is Your Car Prepared?
- Prepare an emergency kit. This kit should stay in your car and have useful items and tools. This should include things for your car such as jumper cables, tools, small replacement parts, and a battery charger. Additionally, items should be made for when stuck in the cold and dark such as a flashlight, blankets, extra winter clothing, snacks, and a flare gun.
- Properly inflated your tires. If your tires aren’t in good condition and inflated correctly, you will have much worse traction when out on snowy roads. Most gas stations have an air pump tank and you can find the correct level of tire pressure by taking a look at your car manual.
- Schedule an appointment. Most importantly, you want to make sure your car is working well. If there is any hidden problem, major or minor, you want it fixed now. Better solve it immediately than have a problem stranding your car in the cold in the middle of nowhere.