With snow, winter brings tough conditions for people, especially who reside where it sways in full swing. Even sleet, fog, rain, and mist prove to be dangerous as nature often things get out of control. As a result, 24% of weather-associated crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavements and 15% happen during snowfall each year (i). These crashes cause over 1,300 annual deaths while severe injuries of more than 116,800 people (ii). Therefore, the more hazardous winter makes situation difficult for drivers, the more safety measures they practice, the easier it will prove in the long-run. So, read along for a complete guide with winter driving tips
Car Kit Winter Essentials
Before learning and fretting about on-road safety measures, one must prepare by taking precautionary measures to survive ‘maybe’ situations. The foremost precaution is preparing the right kit for the winter season. Your car emergency kit will only need some add-ons to becoming a saviour in difficult times or more aptly put, winter times.
Here’s what you will need:
- De-icing salt
- Snow shovel
- Snow chains
- Sturdy boots
- A set of ice grips
- Hi-vis clothing
- Emergency warning triangle
- Tow rope
- Tire inflator
- Jump leads
Prepping Your Car for Winter
Now that you’re all done curating the necessary tools for a winter drive, proceed to prepare your car from inside and out for the road, and the miles ahead. So, follow the tips mentioned below if you want a steadfast car and wish to confront winter driving challenges with confidence.
- Inspect and Replace the Battery
The power of your battery will drop along with the temperature in this season since cold weather decreases the battery’s capacity as the vehicle utilizes more power for starting. Also, electric vehicles and hybrid cars suffer from reduced driving range due to battery condition. So, replace your car battery if you’re planning to hit the road.
- Switch to Winter Tires
Winter tires are very efficient when it comes to providing a strong grip. They not only give better traction in snow and on icy pavements but also in the summer, in wet or slippery conditions with deep treads. Although maintaining an optimal tire pressure as harsh weather tends to reduce it which results in poor handling and performance. And practice rotation every 3000 or 5000 miles for even wear and maximum tread life of your fresh tires.
- Check the Brakes
Brakes live-out an arduous winter season so checking your car’s braking system twice and tuning them right away might help throughout the season.
- Refill and Replace Fluids
Fluids are imperative for proper functioning of your car’s mechanical parts, engine, and other essentials. For a secure, carefree, and smooth driving experience in the season, you might need to refill or replace the vehicle’s fluids with winter formulas. In winter, for instance, precipitation degrades the brake fluid when water molecules diffuse. And many of them freeze in severe cold.
- Install New Wiper Blades
There’s no need for us to stress the importance wiper blades hold in such seasons. Visibility is everything while driving and wiper blades are destructed easily in winters. So, begin the season with fresh wiper blades, and do care for them throughout, and replace them immediately once you spot streaks from a wipe. You don’t even have to fret about your budget since they’re the most affordable car accessory. Also, ensure your windshield washer reservoir is full and carry winter formula fluids with you at all times.
- Replace the Anti-freeze
As the moniker suggests, antifreeze protects the car’s coolant system from freezing. Hence, it is an essential requirement in cold temperatures. So, buy an antifreeze tester from any local shop to test its temperature and replace it right away if required.
- Restore the Heater
Inspect your heater thoroughly, and get it fixed because it’s what will keep you warm and cozy with every journey.
- Protect the Exterior/Paint
Exposure to extreme cold weather, and brushing/scraping ice can damage your car’s paint job by leaving scratches. Waxing the vehicle to provide a protective barrier against all factors will work great in winters.
- Keep the Gas Tank Full
Keeping your gas tank topped up is imperative in winter. But why? It is the empty space that rises up trouble. The half-empty tank allows moisture to build up and puts extra strain on moving parts of the engine. And if the moisture freezes, it causes more trouble to the tank and the car overall. So, keep it full and save yourself from all the trouble.
Winter Driving Hazards
Although the winter season makes everything appear magical with its snowy aura, it also brings in severity. The safest option to survive the severity of the weather is to avoid driving as much as you can. But if you must, here’s what will come your way.
Poor visibility will be your foremost and constant enemy throughout the season, so watch out and follow the guidelines discussed regarding the wipers and fluids to avoid danger.
- Black Ice
If the temperature’s very low but the road appears wet, then it’s the thin layer of shiny black ice playing the imposter.
- Snow Covering the Car
The sight of a snow-covered car every time you plan an expedition is what will trouble you the most.
- Loss of Traction
Temporary brake failure and loss of traction results from fast driving and proving to be extra harsh on brakes.
Winter Driving Tips
Driving in winter must be full of precautions, safety measures, confidence, and brains. And now that we’ve discussed the precautions, some on-road driving measures come into play. So, include these tips in your routine winter driving for a safe journey.
- Drive Slow
When you’re engulfed in fog or mist, driving at low speed is your key to keep moving safely. It will help you avoid sliding, loss of traction, brake failures as you’ll have control over your vehicle. It will move smoothly without causing any harshness to the moving parts. It will also make conditions safer for other drivers.
- Keep Your Distance
The extra room between your car and the car at front will protect you from its spray, and collision from instant braking. The more distance you keep from other cars, the more time you will buy yourself to respond quickly and effectively.
- Switch to Low-beam Lights
You might think that high-beam lights will increase your visibility in foggy conditions, but in fact, the contrary proves to be useful. High-beam lights cause a glare on the road which conceals obstacles ahead. It also blinds other drivers with its intensity. So, switch to low-beam or fog lights and make it easier for yourself.
- Avoid Distractions
No matter what weather, driving and the road itself demand your complete attention. Try to be attentive and focus on the road while driving; avoid driving if you’re not in the right head space.
- Use Wipers and Defrost
Practice ample use of wipers and defrost as they’ll give you a much clearer view reducing glare on the windshield as well.
- Avoid Cruise Control or Auto-pilot
Your car requires your complete command in fierce weather and unpleasant road conditions. Sudden situations are normal in these times which should be addressed with instantaneous response. Thus, avoiding cruise control and auto-pilot will up your safety game.
We hope you’ll not only add to your knowledge with these tips but practice them for the safest driving experience plausible, take precautions and enjoy the season!
(i) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Snow and Ice.
(ii) Refer to the note above.