Winter driving on snow covered roads and highways of Michigan can be a pleasant adventure or it can be frustrating, tiring and sometimes even hazardous. Driving during the winter months can be stressful. Slippery roads do contribute to accidents causing property damage, injuries and deaths. It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling during the holidays or running errands, everyone should be prepared to cope with the difficulties of winter driving. Consider the following tips to help make your winter driving safer.
Get a Car Checkup
Be sure your vehicle is in good shape. Have your car inspected for the cold weather. Here are some items that should be inspected.
- Have the battery and charging system checked. Cold temperatures reduce the battery’s starting power.
Have clean oil. It makes it easier to start the car. Keep the air and oil filters clean as well.
Make sure the heater and defroster are in top condition.
Make sure the tires have sufficient tread for traction. Make sure the tire pressure is correct. Check the spare too.
Check the belts and hoses for excessive wear. Windshield wipers should be inspected and make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid.
Will the fluid in the cooling system handle freezing temperatures?
Are all the lights in good working order?
Check for leaks in the exhaust system.
Carry Emergency Gear
To help make your winter driving safer, equip your vehicle with the following items:
- Ice scraper
- Brush or broom
- Windshield washer fluid
- Warning signs
- Bag of sand or cat litter
- First aid kit
- Warm blankets and extra clothing
- Extra key
- Allow enough time. Trips can take longer during winter than other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
Keep your gas tank full. It may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm or you may be caught in a traffic delay.
Keep windshield and windows clear. Use your window scraper. Use the car defroster and a clean cloth to keep the windows free of fog.
Slow down. A highway speed of 70 miles an hour may be safe in dry weather but an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep your seat belt and those of your passengers buckled and leave more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Bridge decks and shady spots can be icy when other areas are not. Remember to avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
Be more observant. Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles that have flashing lights. Visibility may be so restricted during a storm that it is difficult to see the slow moving equipment.
When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or carbon monoxide problems.
Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver. Be rested. Tired drivers can be as dangerous as drivers who have been drinking.
Keep children age 12 and under in the back seat, away from frontal airbags that may cause injury or death to little ones. Be sure children are seated safely in child seats or on booster seats.