10 Winter Driving Tips to Keep You Safe

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Back to tips-advice Published 4 months ago Written By Odometer Team
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#1 Keep your gas tank full

A full tank of gas helps to reduce moisture in your fuel system. Moisture can lead to fuel system freezing, which can be incredibly frustrating. The added weight from a dozen gallons of fuel can also help in a small way with traction and braking.

#2 Practice recovering from a skid

Skids are sudden and unexpected, and they can happen at any speed. To help keep you on the road, your car may have technology such as traction control or anti-lock brakes (ABS). It could be rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. How your vehicle responds to a skid depends on these factors (and more), and your experience handing your vehicle. If you're unsure how to recover from a skid, find an empty parking lot to practice skidding and recovery.

#3 If you don't already own a set, buy winter tires!

All-season tires are not the same as winter tires. All-season tires lose some of their grip in cold temperatures. Winter tires are formulated to stay soft and grippy in cold weather. They are proven to provide better traction, handling and braking. They can shorten your braking distance on ice and snow by as much as 25%.

#4 Take time to clear ice and snow from your vehicle! Don’t forget about the roof!

If your car is covered in ice and snow, give yourself an extra five or ten minutes before you hit the road. Take this time to thoroughly clean all windows, mirrors, headlights, taillights and the roof. A good ice scraper and brush combination should be long enough to allow you to reach the entire roof. We doubt you appreciate it when the car in front of you is blowing snow and dropping ice projectiles at your vehicle, so be courteous (and safe) and clear your roof.

#5 Create a 'Roadside Survival Kit'

If your car stalls, slides off the road or just won't start in the middle of the winter, survival becomes a relevant concern. Pack a box full of winter roadside survival supplies, such as gloves, a small shovel, booster cables, candles, energy bars and a blanket. Place your survival kit in the trunk of your car, and hope that you'll never have to use it!

Winter Driving
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Winter Driving

If a heavy storm is expected, reconsider your plans and reschedule if necessary.

#6 Give yourself plenty of extra travel time

Drive according to the road conditions and arrive alive. If you’re calm and unhurried you’re less likely to make a critical mistake.

#7 Check the forecast and be prepared to change your plans

Plan your route ahead of time, taking into account your knowledge on which roads might be best-maintained in inclement weather. Check the forecast before you leave. If a heavy storm is expected, reconsider your plans and reschedule if necessary.

#8 Maintain a safe distance behind snow plows

Snow plows can kick up large clouds of snow, which can impair your visibility. Certain plows also salt, sand or deice the road simultaneously. Flying salt and sand can damage your vehicle. Snow plows might also stop suddenly if they run into a large, heavy snow drift or ice.

#9 If the interior of your car is warm, take off your winter jacket while driving

Having too many layers, especially a bulky jacket, can restrict your movement and make it difficult to turn the steering wheel, check your blind spot or properly position your seat belt.

#10 Avoid using cruise control on slippery roads

Your reaction time, or ability to safely regain control of your vehicle, in the event of a skid may be diminished if you’re using cruise control. Your car will continue to accelerate, perhaps in the wrong direction. Most cruise control systems will shut off if you apply the brakes; however, you do not want to increase tire forces in the event of a skid, which is happens when you brake or accelerate. To avoid this slippery situation, avoid cruise control altogether.

If you do skid, commonly accepted protocol is to focus on your steering, steer in the direction you wish to go, and be careful not to oversteer. Once you regain control of your vehicle, you can brake gently and smoothly.

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