Driving during the winter is dangerous. According to researchers at Berkeley, the most dangerous day of the season is when the first snowfall arrives. Because people have not yet adapted their behavior to accommodate for more dangerous conditions, fatal crashes are 14% more likely to happen
on this day than on subsequent snowy ones.
Every year in the United States, the poor weather conditions associated with winter cause 7,000 fatalities, 800,000 injuries and more than 1.5 millions crashes
. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce the chances that you are involved in one of those tragic incidents.
Tips For Driving Safe This Winter
Safe winter driving starts with your mindset and the general level of preparedness you take into account at the beginning of the season.
Bearing in mind the statistic above about the most dangerous day of the winter season being the first day of snowfall, it’s worth getting yourself prepared early to avoid being caught out by a surprise weather event.
1. General Maintenance
– more serious weather conditions puts more pressure on lots of different parts of your vehicle. If there are any niggles that you’ve been meaning to sort out – from your windshield wipers to your exhaust system – get them fixed before the cold weather hits. And it almost goes without saying that you should check your coolant level.
– there are two main things to consider with your tires – their pressure and whether you should buy winter tires, such as the Bridgestone Blizzak
. First, pressure: tire pressure drops with colder temperatures, so there’s no point going on the figures you got back in the hotter months of the year. As soon as the temperature starts to dive, get them checked again
, the question of winter tires. With special rubber compounds and carefully designed treads that will improve your vehicle’s traction, handling and braking, winter tires
are worth the investment if you live anywhere that regularly drops below freezing – even if it doesn’t snow that much. If you do decide to invest, get four rather than two – otherwise you risk greater spin because of the difference in traction.
3. Survival kit
– depending on where you live, you might want to put together a bit of a winter survival kit to keep in the trunk of your car in case of a breakdown or unexpected stop. A shovel, salt/sand, blanket, ice-scraper, torch, tow rope, candle and matches, jumper cables and a few snacks will keep you safe and warm until help arrives, or may be all you need to get back on the road.
ON THE ROAD
Preparation is important, but it’s by no means everything…
1. Planning Your Trip
– remember to leave a bit of extra time for your trip (you’ll probably drive more slowly than you would in the summer), and avoid a last minute rush by giving yourself a good 15 minutes to clear your car of any snow or ice. A thorough clean is best – you don’t want any roof snow sliding down onto your windshield, or to limit your vision by looking through an icy peephole!
2. Driving Skills
– there are few basic driving rules and guidelines that will help you avoid a dangerous situation on difficult roads, or help you get out of one safely:
– drive more slowly and more smoothly
– accelerate slowly to help reduce the chance of wheel spin
– keep reminding yourself to allow for longer braking distances
– be prepared to correct for a slide by releasing the accelerator a little and steering in the direction of the slide
– avoid locking your wheels by pulsing your brakes (unless you have an antilock braking system in which case a firm press and hold is the best technique).
Stay safe and enjoy the ride!
Image Source: Sharrox2000 on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/55467945@N06/