Winter Driving Safety

Driving in Snow Winter Safety TipsThe snowy season is a thrilling time for winter sports, building snowmen, admiring nature’s beauty and curling up by a (closely-tended) fire with loved ones.  Winter driving, however is not a winter sport and it poses daunting threats to even the most cautious drivers.  The surest way to remain safe is, of course, to avoid driving in snowy and icy conditions, but we understand that the snow days of yore may be a distant memory.

While you may not have the luxury of staying home and building snowmen, you can minimize the special risks of traveling in snow and ice by heeding certain precautions while driving and by employing defensive driving to anticipate the mistakes of others.

Travelers, one of Asset Security’s trusted insurance carriers, has created a Winter Driving Safety Quiz where you can test your automobile acumen and learn valuable safety tips. Topics include defensive driving, speed, safety concerns, weather conditions, driving habits, and accident reduction techniques.  I scored a cool 10/10! What will you score?

Travelers Winter Driving Safety, Asset Security, Inc Insurance

Take the Travelers Winter Driving Safety Quiz now and then continue on below for more safe driving tips!

Consider the following:

  • Get an engine tune-up in the fall.  Switch to winter-weight oil if you aren’t already using all-season oil. Be sure all lights are in good working order. Have the brakes adjusted.
  • Battery and voltage regulator should be checked. Make sure battery connections are good.
  • If the battery terminal posts seem to be building up a layer of corrosion, clean them with a paste of baking soda and water. Let it foam, and then rinse with water. Apply a thin film of petroleum jelly to the terminal posts to prevent corrosion, and reconnect.
  • Be sure all fluids are at proper levels. Antifreeze should not only be strong enough to prevent freezing, but fresh enough to prevent rust.
  • Make sure wiper blades are cleaning properly. Consider changing to winter wiper blades, which are made for driving in snow. They are covered with a rubber boot to keep moisture away from working parts of the blade.
  • Don’t idle a cold vehicle’s engine for along time to warm it up – it could harm the engine. The right way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it.

Try to be equipped with the following, especially for emergencies:

  • Snow shovel.
  • Scraper with a brush on one end.
  • Tow chain or strap.
  • Tire chains.
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries).
  • Abrasive material (cat litter, sand, salt, or traction mats).
  • Jumper cables.
  • Warning device (flares or reflective triangles).
  • Brightly colored cloth to signal for help.
  • Sleeping bags or blankets, ski caps, and mittens.
  • First-aid supplies.
  • Compass.

Getting Unstuck:

  •   Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way. Keep a light touch on the gas, and ease forward. Don’t spin your wheels–you’ll just dig in deeper.
  • Rocking the vehicle is another way to get unstuck. (Check your owner’s manual first–it can damage the transmission on some vehicles). Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
  • Front-wheel drive vehicles, snow tires should be on the front – the driving axle – for better traction in mud or snow.
  • Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), keep your foot on the pedal. If not, pump the pedal gently, pumping more rapidly as your car slows down. Braking hard with non-anti-lock brakes will make the skid worse.
  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but  don’t try to steer immediately.
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently. 

Source: The National Safety Council’s “Winter, Your Car and You.”

If your rear wheels start to skid:

  • Turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If your car has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), keep your foot on the pedal. If not, pump the pedal gently, pumping more rapidly as your car slows down. Braking hard with non-anti-lock brakes will make the skid worse.

If your front wheels start to skid:

  • To avoid skids, brake carefully and gently on snow or ice. “Squeeze” your brakes in slow, steady strokes. Allow the wheels to keep rolling. If they start to lock up, ease off the brake pedal. As you slow down, you may also want to shift into a lower gear.
  • When sleet, freezing rain or snow start to fall, remember that bridges, ramps, and overpasses are likely to freeze first. Also be aware that slippery spots may still remain after road crews have cleared the highways.

Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Manual

Remember: Ice and Snow? Take it slow!

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