Winter Driving--Be Prepared, Be Safe

BINGHAMTON, NY As the winter season approaches it is important for all motorists to take the proper precautions in keeping themselves and their vehicles safe on the roadways. Dealing with snow, ice and cold temperatures can leave drivers feeling frustrated and anxious. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends taking the following steps to keeping you and your vehicle safe during the winter months.

Have your car serviced now. Take your car to your mechanic for a tune-up. If you plan to install snow tires, it is best to do it before the first snow falls. If you’re not sure what tires to get, you can visit www.safercar.gov for tire ratings. In addition, be sure to inspect the tread and air pressure on your tires on a monthly basis. Checking your battery for sufficient voltage and the cooling system to see if it is in need of flushing are simple do-it-yourself car maintenance tasks that can help reduce the risk of your being stranded. Be sure to always keep your windshield washer reservoir filled and add no-freeze fluids for cold weather driving. Check your windshield wipers and defrosters for the best visibility. 
 
Know your car. Every car handles differently in the snow and ice. Practice cold weather driving in an empty lot in broad daylight so you can get used to how your car feels. In inclement weather, it is best to drive slowly and to increase your following distance. It is important to get familiar with your braking system as well. For anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure to stop; for non-anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes gently. If you do happen to skid, always steer into the skid and ease off the gas to realign your vehicle. Slamming on your brakes will most likely cause you to skid even more.
 
Plan ahead and keep your vehicle fully stocked. Before venturing out, always check the weather, road conditions and traffic. If the weather is severe, stay inside. When venturing out, do not rush. Give yourself enough time to get to your destination and always keep your gas tank full. Have an alternate route in mind in case your original route is too dangerous to travel.  In case of winter emergencies, you should always keep certain supplies in your vehicle. Things like a snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, a flashlight, abrasive materials like kitty litter, flares, blankets, a cell phone, food, water and any needed medications are a good idea. 
 
If you are stranded in wintery weather, it is important to stay with your car and do not overexert yourself. Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on. To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically just long enough to stay warm. 
 
For more information visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.gov .
 
 
 
 
 

 

12/10/2010 - 10:17am