Five Winter Driving Safety Tips

If you feel like you’ve entered a winter wonderland as you’re driving around town, be careful. Those beautifully iced roads can be deadly if you’re unprepared. Each year, more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy roads. To help you stay safe this season, we've put together the following five tips.

Check Your Tire Pressure

Examine your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure your tires are inflated properly. Underinflated tires can provide less traction, reduce fuel mileage and wear out prematurely, increasing your likelihood of losing control on an icy road.

Remain Calm in a Skid

Practice gentle acceleration and braking to maintain consistent traction in snowy and icy conditions. If your wheels begin to spin, release the accelerator until traction returns. Increase your following distance on ice and snow to at least eight to 10 seconds (if not more) between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. This will give you ample time to respond to road and weather hazards.

Most importantly, if your vehicle does go into a slide or skid, don’t panic and slam on the brakes! This will only worsen the slide.

Prepare an Emergency Kit 

It’s essential to be prepared in case you get stranded in the snow, so be sure to keep an emergency kit in your car that contains the following necessities:

  • An ice pick
  • Snow shovel and brush
  • Basic tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers and a wrench
  • Bag of traction material like kitty litter or sand
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Items to keep you warm, such as extra clothes, gloves, hats and blankets
  • Booster cables
  • First aid kit 
  • Nonperishable food items (such as granola bars) 
  • Water
  • Warning flares
  • Reflective triangles 

Beware of Low Temperatures

If possible, avoid major highways and bridges if the temperature falls below freezing. These two areas are prime real estate for ice. Find an alternative route to travel on, or if you can, simply stay off the roads until the freeze has passed. 

At these temperatures, windshields also start to freeze. Invest in some winter windshield wipers so your glass doesn’t streak and limit your visibility. 

Fill Your Tank 

To prevent your fuel line from freezing, make sure your tank is at least half full before embarking on a trip in the stormy weather. If your vehicle becomes stuck in the snow, this will also enable you to keep your heater running until help arrives.

For more information on how to stay safe during these stormy winter months, check out our "What to Do When..." blog posts.

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