Start winter off right by ensuring the vehicle is in good condition. Check the battery, tire tread, and windshield wipers. Keep windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check the antifreeze. Allow time for all vehicle windows to clear from frost or snow before driving. Don’t drive with frost on the windows.
Know Your Car
If possible, practice driving in icy or snowy conditions in an empty parking lot in full daylight. On the road:
- Slow down and allow plenty of distance to stop for vehicles ahead.
- Know what the brakes will do. In general for those vehicles with antilock brakes, the driver needs to apply firm, continuous pressure. If the vehicle does not have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
- In a skid, ease the foot off the gas pedal while steering in the direction of travel. Drivers should stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until they are able to maintain control of the vehicle. This procedure, known as “steering into the skid,” will bring the back end of the car in line with the front.
- Check the weather, road and traffic conditions. Leave early if necessary.
- Drivers should familiarize themselves with directions and maps before they go, even if they use a GPS system. Tell others the route and expected arrival time. Resist the cell phone temptations
- Keep gas tank close to full. If stuck in traffic or snow, you may need more fuel to get home or keep warm.
- If possible, avoid driving in hazardous conditions or wait until conditions improve before venturing out.
Stock The Vehicle
Carry items for common winter driving tasks and supplies one might need in an emergency:
- Snow shovel, broom and ice scraper;
- Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case the vehicle gets stuck in the snow;
- Jumper cables, flashlight and warning devices such as flares and markers;
- Cell phone with charger, water, food and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or in lightly- populated areas).
Stopped or Stalled
- Drivers should stay with the car and try not to overexert themselves.
- Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on.
- To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, clear the exhaust pipe and run the vehicle only long enough to stay warm.