Tips & Tricks For Cold Weather Trips; Slippery Road Conditions Here To Stay
On Monday (10/24) outside Galena, slippery road conditions likely played a part in a one-vehicle rollover crash in which the driver was seriously injured. That's according to the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department. Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when more and more of these stories will begin to show up.
Cold weather is officially here. And after about the umpteenth hard freeze, falling leaves, and drizzly nights; it’s time to start thinking about our winter/cold weather driving habits. And maybe get into a few new good practices right now.
Winter conditions always present motorists with considerable challenges; freezing temps, foggy mornings, slippery or snowy road conditions, and additional driving during dusk and dark as the time changes. Any combination of these issues can cause a loss of vehicle control, even if it doesn’t result in an accident. It’s time to take precautions for yourself and your vehicle. So, here are some useful tips for safely driving in snow and ice.
Before you even leave the house there are things you can do to improve your driving. Make sure you know the route and allow enough time to reach your destination. Never rush yourself in the winter if at all possible. Check local reports to see if roads are cleared for travel following bad weather. Clear all snow from your vehicle. Driving with snow on your car is dangerous and most likely a violation of law.
This is the one I always forget and regret it. ALWAYS top off you washer fluid. Use a strong antifreeze concentration, so it doesn’t freeze on the glass. Try to keep your fuel tank full. Should there be an issue, you do not want to be stuck in the cold if the vehicle can run properly and heat you.
Make a winter kit and pack it now. Put together an emergency kit of food, drinks, a road flare, extra clothing or a large quilt/blanket. Remember, water expands as it freezes, so maybe don't leave the water bottles in your vehicle for extended amounts of time. It's also great to have a warning triangle for on road break downs, and a first aid kit.
Now it’s time to drive. These winter driving tips go a LONG way in preventing issues on the road.
- Operate your vehicle more slowly and smoothly, including braking, steering, acceleration and gear changes if using a stick/manual
- Turn on/Keep on your headlights. It let others see you more prominently and if visibility drops below 100m, turn on your fog lights if you have them.
- Gentle acceleration is key for rear wheeled drive vehicles
- When starting or climbing hills, leave room in front of the car so you can maintain a steady speed without the need for changing gear or acceleration. In addition, do not tailgate the person in front of you. If they lose power, they could slide back down the hill into your oncoming vehicle.
- Speaking of which, keep a greater distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you for braking.
- If your car skids, DON’T PANIC. Steer gently into it. Do NOT take your hands off the steering wheel. Do NOT slam on the brakes.
- If there is no grit on the roads (sand/salt), avoid driving in the tracks of other vehicles if possible; snow becomes more ice-like as its packed.