Important Tips for Driving Safely in Winter

These tips can help you have a save road trip, even through a snowy winter night.

It’s almost time to go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house for the holidays. OK, chances are you’re going to be taking the interstate instead, but you still need to know how to get there safely.

These tips from Rand McNally are good ones to keep in mind:

Know the differences among various winter weather advisories

The National Weather Service issues several cautions; understand what they mean before you hit the road:

  • Winter weather advisories are for conditions that may be hazardous, but should not become life threatening when using caution.
  • Winter storm watches mean that severe winter conditions may affect your area and are issued 12-36 hours in advance of major storms.
  • Winter storm warnings mean a storm bringing four or more inches of snow/sleet is expected in the next 12 hours, or six or more inches in 24 hours.
  • Blizzard warnings mean snow and strong winds will produce blinding snow, deep drifts, and a life-threatening wind chill.

Let someone know your timetable and travel route

This is especially important if you’ll be driving in areas with little traffic, rural locations, or large park areas.

Prevention is the best medicine

Driving slowly and maintaining plenty of room between you and the next car is the easiest way to avoid accidents. We all want to get to Christmas dinner faster but that extra 30 minutes could save your life. In bad weather, allow for three-to-12 times more stopping distance depending on the size of your vehicle.

Stock up your car with the right tools

Pack a shovel, broom, ice scraper, jumper cables, blankets, flashlight, warning devices (flares), sand or kitty litter, and high-calorie non-perishable food.

Keep a portable cell phone charger in your car

Instant chargers for your cell phone are always good to carry. If your car battery dies, you will be glad you spent the extra money to reach help.

Keep your gas tank full to prevent the fuel line from freezing

Also, make sure the windshield wiper fluid reservoir is full.

Check to make sure your lights and windshield wipers are functioning properly

In most states it is illegal to drive if either is malfunctioning; and in certain weather situations it is also extremely unsafe.

If you get stuck in the snow, stay in your car

It’s your best shelter. Don’t leave unless help is within 100 yards.

Nearly 60 percent of accidents are the result of improper driving.

Whether you’ve had a bit too much pie or a bit too much pilsner, don’t drive until you are fully awake and not impaired by anything. Most adults know well enough not to drink and drive, but few realize accidents are just as easily caused by being drowsy or impaired by legal drugs like cold medicines. When in doubt, pull to the side of the road or check into a motel for a quick nap.

Carry a first aid kit in the car with you.

This is especially important if you have children or the elderly riding with you.


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