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Winter Driving Safety Checklist

With the first snow, it seems everyone is re-learning how to drive on wet, icy, or snowy roads. This year play it safe and get re-acquainted with how to best handle your vehicle under winter weather driving conditions.

  • Practice cold weather driving. Until you're completely comfortable with your winter weather driving skills and know how your vehicle handles in snowy conditions, practice in an empty lot in full daylight.
  • Drive slowly. It's harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. Add sufficient distance between you and the vehicles ahead so that you will have plenty of time to stop.
  • Know your brakes and how to use them properly. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, pump them gently to avoid going into a spin.
  • If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm. Ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. This procedure, known as "steering into the skid," brings the back end of your car in line with the front. Check your tires Regardless of the time of year, inspect your tires at least once a month and always before starting out for a road trip.

Here are some things to remember!

  • Check tire pressure to make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer's suggested PSI (pounds per square inch) of air pressure, listed in your owner's manual.
  • Check your battery.
  • Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle to check pressure when tires are cold, which means they haven't been driven on for at least three hours.
  • Look at your tread and replace tires with uneven wear or insufficient tread. Tread should be at least 1/16 of an inch or greater on all tires.

When the temperature drops, so does battery power. Plus, it takes more power to start your vehicle in cold weather than in warm. Have your mechanic check:

  • the charging system and have your belts inspected.
  • your battery for sufficient voltage.

Keep yourself and others safe by planning ahead before heading out into bad weather.

  • Allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.
  • Check the weather, road conditions, and traffic.
  • If road conditions are hazardous think about postponing your outing.
  • Keep your gas tank close to full. If you get stuck in a traffic jam or snow, you might need more gas to get home or keep warm.
  • Leave early if necessary.

Winter driving can turn hazardous in a very short time, so make sure to carry these items in your vehicle during the winter months:

  • A cell phone, water, food, and any necessary medicine.
  • Abrasive material, such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
  • Blankets for protection from the cold.
  • Jumper cables, flashlight and warning devices, such as flares and markers.
  • Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
  • Windshield fluid.

These are especially important if you are planning a road trip.