With the extreme weather conditions currently affecting many parts of the United States, and millions of Americans preparing to drive home for the Holidays, what can be done to keep your loved ones safer in snow and ice?
Prepare your vehicle for winter
- Install snow tires on your vehicle, not all-season radials. Snow tires give extra traction in ice and snow.
- Make sure your spare tire is also a snow tire.
- Ensure your tires are correctly inflated.
- Chains add another level of safety.
- Upgrade your coolant levels.
- Use windshield cleaner rated for winter conditions.
- Check your battery and replace it if unreliable.
- Carry a bag of sand, both for weight and traction, and a snow shovel.
- It’s not always easy to change your vehicle, but if you will be travelling in winter conditions as a matter of habit, choose a vehicle with front wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or 4-wheel drive. Rear wheel drive vehicles are more difficult to handle in icy conditions.
- Install a Travall vehicle-specific pet barrier
- Keep locks from freezing up by using WD-40
Know the road conditions
First and foremost, if the conditions are not safe, do not go! If you absolutely must, then plan your route well in advance. Check road safety conditions before you leave and try to check conditions as the journey progresses.
Check the weather forecast before you leave
Try to check out the weather forecast for your current location, your final destination and for points along the route. If you are aware of weather warnings, there will be fewer surprises on the way. Carry chains if snow is expected and if you’ll be travelling in hills or mountains. Ensure that everyone travelling has the appropriate clothing for the anticipated weather conditions. Having coats, hats, gloves and sturdy boots in the car is essential if you will be travelling in snowy conditions.
Start off with a full tank of gas and where possible don’t allow your tank to drop below half way. You may have to stop off at the gas station more frequently, but you don’t want to run out of gas in snowy conditions.
Prepare for driving in wintry conditions
Know how to drive in icy or snowy conditions. Use an empty parking lot to practice steering out of a skid. Drive more slowly than usual and slower than the posted speed limits. Allow more distance between you and other vehicles. Pump brakes gently and use gears to slow down.
Carry an emergency survival kit
- First aid kit
- Garbage sacks that could double as a tarp or rain poncho
- High energy food like granola bars or dried fruit.
- A portable stove
- Matches or a lighter
- Candles (use for light and to keep the vehicle warm)
- Tin can for melting snow for water.
- Coats, wool socks, gloves, scarves and other winter clothing
Where possible use main roads
This may not always be an option, but try to stick to major routes, so if you do become stranded you can be found more quickly and easily.
Additional driving tips
- Drive according to the conditions.
- Reduce speed in poor visibility, where there is snow, or if ice may have formed.
- Stay in a higher gear to help keep control of the vehicle and avoid harsh braking and acceleration.
- Maintain larger safer stopping distances, you may have to double or even triple your stopping distance.
- Use dimmed headlights in poor visibility and snow, so others can see you.
- Use rear fog lights.
If you get stranded stay with your vehicle
If you need to keep the engine running to keep warm, ensure that the exhaust is not clogged with snow.
Try to keep mobile devices charged so you can call for assistance if necessary
Wherever you are driving during the Holidays, we wish you a good and safe journey. Happy Holidays!