Car Safety in the Winter
Driving with extra caution isn’t the only way to stay safe on the road during the winter season. Keeping our vehicles in tip-top shape and being prepared in the event of an accident could save a life. And paying close attention to smaller details when it comes to your car can make all the difference.
Besides replacing your tires with snow tires, take your car or truck to a mechanic to check out the antifreeze level, thermostat, heater, brakes, and defroster. Taking a car in for inspection by a professional may cost a few extra bucks, but being sure that your brakes won’t give out on ice or that your heat will work when the temperature is in the negatives makes the potential cost worth it. In addition to these steps, an article from How Stuff Works gives more helpful tips on how to prepare your car for winter drives.
Make sure that the front and rear lights on your vehicle are operational, especially your flashing hazard lights. Simply ensuring your visibility to other cars on the road when you slow down, make a turn, or pull off on the shoulder can prevent serious car accidents.
Besides keeping your vehicle’s parts in check, packing your car with essentials will help keep you safe and prepared for the winter conditions you may encounter on the road. In the event of an accident or becoming stranded during a winter storm, keeping a first-aid kit in the vehicle is recommended. The kit should include all the essentials, plus extras like flashlights, batteries, blankets, matches, extra clothes, water, and non-perishable food items. Never forget to have a snow shovel and ice-scraper close at hand: keeping your car clear for maximum visibility is crucial to safety.
When something bad happens on the road, communication is necessary to receive the help you need as soon as possible. If you have a cell phone, keep it in the car with you along with a car charger. Never use the phone while you’re driving; however, in case an accident does happen, being able to call the police or other assistance is essential.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), car accidents are the number one cause of death during winter storms. After your car is packed and ready for a winter trip, there are a few more steps you should take to ensure a safer drive.
Plan out your driving route ahead of time to avoid the roads you know become dangerous during bad weather. Always keep in mind that bridges and overpasses freeze first. Let someone know your route so that if you are stranded without contact, someone can let the authorities know where to start searching.
Before and during your drive, listen to the radio for announcements about accidents and road closings. Don’t hesitate to call local highway control if the information isn’t available on the radio.
No matter how accustomed to winter driving you are, taking these extra steps can increase your chances of survival when the going gets tough.