For drivers those who live in areas where ice and snow are problematic, preparing for a winter drive can be tricky business. Ideally, a person should aim to stay off the roads altogether amidst harsh weather conditions. When this isn’t possible, certain safety tips should be applied.
Before even getting into the vehicle, drivers should make sure to clear all snow from the roof, hood, windshield, windows, trunks and tail lights and headlights. Clearing just enough to see through the windshield is not enough. All windows should be cleared for full visibility; snow on the rooftop should be clear to ensure it doesn’t collapse onto the windows and obstruct vision; and snow should be cleared from the headlights and tail lights to ensure the car is visible to others.
When driving in snow and ice, drivers should be weary of hills. Drivers should remember that when driving in snow, going downhill can be trickier than going uphill. Keeping a certain amount of momentum can be necessary when driving uphill. However, when driving downhill, proceed with caution. It’s easy to lose control of where the vehicle will end up.
Anticipation is key. Adjusting based on where the car might be headed 10 seconds ahead of time can be a significant factor for a driver to stay out of a ditch. For instance, if the driver sees a sharp turn with a lot of ice, he or she should take the turn with caution or avoid it if possible.
Avoid abrupt turns or abrupt braking. Taking a turn too sharply, or braking too quickly and abruptly can cause a loss of control for the driver. Also, it can help for the driver to put the car in neutral before braking, since neutral doesn’t pull the car forward like having it in drive. This can help the car come to a fully controlled stop if conditions are severe.
Ensuring one has appropriate emergency supplies can be a life-saving practice. Ideally, these items would be together, perhaps in a bag of some sort, and would be easy to access in an emergency. The trunk is an ideal spot.
For Safer Driving
- Snow shovel and scraper
- Sand or kitty litter for traction
If pushing a stuck car out of snow, drivers should remember to rock the car gently in order to build momentum. Also, the driver should be careful about spinning out too much, as it might simply dig him or her deeper into the snow.
In the case of ice driving, remember to keep speeds low and to avoid sharp turns or abrupt breaking.
In Case of an Emergency
- Booster cables
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Flares or reflectors
- First Aid Kit
- Exterior windshield cleaner
- Bright cloth
Drivers should be sure to replace batteries periodically.
Survival Supplies in Case of an Emergency
- Extra warm clothes
- At least two blankets, and/or sleeping bag
- High calorie, non-perishable food (including can opener if necessary)
- Cloth/paper towels
Being prepared can mean the difference between life or death. That also means checking weather forecasts in advance.