Winter driving can be a challenge for even the best or most experienced of drivers. It is important to always prepare, be alert on the road, and ensure vehicle equipment is ready for colder weather and functioning properly prior to any trip. Knowledge of winter defensive driving techniques and the ability to adapt to the ever-changing conditions will also separate you from the rest of the drivers on the road.
To help keep drivers safe this winter, here are eight tips to keep in mind:
- Know the weather and the route: There is so much information available to drivers regarding daily winter weather. Plan ahead, as conditions can change at any point during the journey.
- Be careful when driving on mountain terrains: Mountain driving adds curves and changes in elevation to the journey. Each of these present their own unique hazards. Choose a speed you are comfortable with and remember that a steep downhill grade and slippery roads are the worst combination.
- Learn winter driving skills: Winter driving requires additional skills such as skid control and being smooth and gentle when turning, stopping, and accelerating. Learn how to read the road; the absence of tire spray and shadowed areas under bridges and beside forested areas are possible indications of icy roads, and more present driving hazards.
- Slow down: It is not necessarily the number of collisions that occur in winter months, but the seriousness of the collisions. Many drivers do not realize how much they should slow down during the winter and tend to drive too fast for the present conditions. This can lead to unnecessary collisions. Remember, the posted speed limit is for a nice summer day.
- Be aware of following distance: Be aware of the space around the vehicle on all four sides. Drivers should get a clear picture of what is going on ahead of them, beside them, and behind them. They should maintain an increased following distance whenever possible. Do not use the cruise control in adverse conditions.
- Avoid distracted driving: Driving in poor winter weather conditions is bad enough, but adding any form of distracted driving to the mix is a recipe for Stay focused on the roads and conditions that are present.
- Have the proper tools: Be prepared before any journey during the winter. Carry a bag of kitty litter in the vehicle in case you need to provide more grip for your tires. Keep a hammer and putty knife in your vehicle for chipping away any ice and snow buildups that may occur. Keep a supply of fuel conditioners and methyl hydrate for fuel and air lines
- Pack an emergency kit: In a worst-case scenario, drivers should be prepared to spend hours or even days stranded in possible sub-zero weather. Kits should include extra clothing, extra food, a dependable flashlight, a power bank for charging a cell phone, heat packets, candles, warm boots, and many other items.
By keeping these winter driving techniques in mind, you can help ensure you and other drivers are as safe as possible. Because winter driving can be so dangerous, it is vital that anyone operating a vehicle during the colder months is aware and cautious while on the road.
To learn more about the kinds of risks you and your business may face in the winter, and steps you can take to protect yourself, visit our blog.