Driving through hazardous winter weather can be frightening — to say the least.
Weather can change rapidly during winter, and sometimes dangerous conditions can appear seemingly out of nowhere and take you by surprise. Unfortunately, common winter weather can make the roadways extremely hazardous.
That’s why it’s so important to be prepared. Sometimes, these winter conditions can even create life-or-death scenarios.
Now’s the time to start prepping for dangerous winter conditions. Check out these tips on how to stay safe while driving in winter weather.
Know the Forecast
I can’t stress this enough: always check the weather before you head out. Make sure you’re aware of any advisory information for your area, and stay up-to-date on winter warnings.
Check Road Conditions
Similarly, always take the time to check the road conditions along your specific route. The Federal Highway Administration’s website has a list of statewide road weather condition sites here.
Additionally, local news stations and weather stations can provide general weather advisories for your area. They may also provide road closures and other alerts.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Exactly how much you need to do in order to prepare your vehicle for the winter months depends greatly on your location. For instance, snow tires might be overkill for Florida residents, but are a must for northern states.
Even if you don’t live in a Winter Wonderland, there are still things that need to be done. It’s best to head to your mechanic for a tune-up in preparation for winter weather. Check the battery, cooling system, windshield wipers, and lights.
For more on winterizing your vehicle, check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for their Vehicle Safety Checklist.
Keep an Emergency Kit In Your Car at All Times
I always say that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having an emergency kit in your car will likely come in handy, and could even be life-saving! An emergency kit isn’t just good for winter weather emergencies, either. They can prove useful year-round.
To be properly prepared, your kit should contain these basic items:
- Jumper cables
- Emergency markers, such as reflective triangles
- Ice scraper
- Car phone charger
- Cat litter or sand for tire traction
- First aid kit
What to Do In an Emergency
If you find yourself stopped or stalled in wintery weather, it’s important to follow these safety rules:
Do not overexert yourself trying to get your car unstuck.
In many cases, it is safer to stay with your vehicle and wait for help. Keep the interior dome light turned on.
Put reflective and bright emergency markers on the antenna or windows so that your car can be seen easier.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger, so don’t run your car for long periods of time in an enclosed space. If it’s extremely cold and you must run your vehicle to stay warm, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run the car sporadically.