With winter fast approaching us the conversation of winter driving has begun to surface again. And although many people find it daunting to drive in the winter months, there are a few tips that will make the whole experience a lot more palatable.
In the winter months especially it’s important to make sure that you’re ready when you drive. Even more so if you’re planning a long trip.
Watch the weather reports. This will give you a good idea if you’re going to be driving into a storm or not. If you don’t think it’s safe to drive, then don’t drive.
Have an emergency kit with you. A few simple essentials will help you out if the worst should happen. Make sure you have the following:
- A fully charged cellphone with emergency contact numbers (AAA, family)
- Warm clothing and gloves for each passenger.
- A torch.
- Any medication that you need.
Make sure your car is capable of making the journey. It sounds obvious, but if you think the problem you have with the alternator is going to leave you broken down in the middle of a snowstorm then it’s best not to take the risk.
Check your car. Do this before you drive. Remember to check the following:
- Tire Pressures
- Whether the exhaust is blocked with snow
- The amount of gas you have. Try and keep it around half full, it’ll help lessen the chances of your lines freezing up.
Always use your safely belt. This should be done every time you drive, but even more so in bad weather.
If you think that you and the car are capable of making the trip then here’s some good advice to follow when driving in adverse weather.
Drive slowly. Your braking time, cornering and accelerating will take much longer than it would even on wet roads. Try and give yourself an 8 to 10 second gap between you and the vehicle in front.
If you drive stick, use a lower gear. This will give you much more torque and will keep you in better control of the vehicle on downhill descents.
Maintain speed. If you are coming up to a hill, make sure there’s some inertia behind your car. You don’t want to have to accelerate up an icy hill, it’ll only make your wheels spin. And most importantly, try not to stop on a hill.
Accelerate and brake slowly. Doing this will give you the best chance of keeping traction on the road.
Avoid using cruise control. You’ll find yourself in better control of the vehicle this way.
Don’t rely on your parking brake. This may lock the wheels but that’s going to be no use if there’s no grip on the road. Park on a flat surface wherever possible.
Use routes that have been recently been cleared. It may involve you driving a little further than usual but its much safer. Failing that, try and still in the tracks of other cars.
Don’t drive if you don’t have to. You may be a good driver in the snow but there are many people that aren’t. You don’t want to find yourself caught up in traffic because of these people.
If the Worst Should Happen
Even if you do take all of the above precautions there is still a chance that you might find yourself stuck in snow or broken down. If this happens then follow these steps.
Remain in the vehicle. It will keep you sheltered from the elements and will make you easier to find. Call for help on your cellphone and give as accurate directions as you cant o where you are.
Don’t tire yourself out trying to move your car. If the car won’t move then it’s important to conserve your energy. It’ll also lessen the chances of you falling and seriously hurting yourself.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or in a closed window. This will give the rescuers a better chance of finding you and seeing that your in distress.
Use whatever you can to keep warm. Anything such as floor mats and old newspapers will help you.
Use the heater as little as possible. It may be tempting to have the engine running and the heaters on, but this will use up your gas. Use it just enough to take the chill out of the air.
Most importantly, remain calm.