12 Driver Safety Tips to Keep You Safe This Winter

The first day of winter is just a couple of weeks away, which means it’s time to start thinking about how to prepare yourself and your vehicle for snow, ice, sleet, and other cold-weather phenomenon while on the road.

Since no one wants to experience a breakdown during any season—especially winter—careful planning, packing, and inspection of your vehicle will help you get from point A to point B with as little stress as possible.

Below, you’ll find 12 driver safety tips that will help you prepare for any road trips you have planned this winter. Read and follow these tips to ensure safe travels this winter and during the holidays.

Protect yourself and loved ones – Buckle up and use child safety seats properly.  Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an airbag. Children 12 and under are much safer in the back seat.

Prevent crashes – Never drink and drive or text and drive. Avoid fatigue by getting plenty of rest before trips, stopping at least every three hours, and rotating drivers if possible.

Be prepared – Make sure you have basic emergency supplies in your car in the event you’re stuck or break down in winter weather. Emergency supplies to keep on hand include a flashlight, warning devices (flares and reflective triangles), an ice scraper, a snow shovel, sand or cat litter, and a blanket, as well as food, water, medication, and a cell phone for longer trips.

Make sure your windshield washer reservoir is full with non-freeze fluid.  On a snowy or messy day, you can easily go through a half gallon or more of windshield washer fluid.

Turn your windshield wipers off before shutting off the engine.  Water frequently freezes overnight during the winter.  If your blades freeze to the windshield, when you start your car, the wiper motor may burn out trying to move your blades back to the rest position. When not in use, position wipers away from windshield into the perpendicular position to prevent freezing to the windshield.

Check your tire pressure regularly. Tire pressure drops by about one pound per ten degrees of temperature decrease.  Tire pressure plays a critical role in traction and performance. Low pressure can affect the vehicle’s handling and prove to be very dangerous.

Check your tire tread.  Your tires are crucial for proper traction and being able to stop in snow and ice.  If your tread is worn – less than 2/32 inch or not past the top of Lincoln’s head when you insert a penny upside down – don’t delay buying new tires. If you run with winter tires, you can begin to noticeably lose traction around 6/32 of tread depth.

Keep your gas tank close to full. In winter, if you do get stuck or stranded, the engine will be your only source of heat.  Keeping at least a half tank at all times can help you avoid moisture build up in the fuel tank.

Don’t forget to check the spare tire.  Having a fully-functioning spare is important at all times, but never more than during hazardous winter months. When you inspect your tires, it is recommended that you check the tread depth, air pressure, and age of your spare.

Slow down and increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.  You will have more time to react if traffic unexpectedly comes to a halt. According to Motorwise.com, in the presence of snow and ice, it takes 10 times the usual distance to stop.

Clear ice and snow off your entire car, including headlights.  Don’t clear just a peephole.  You need just as much, if not more, visibility in poor weather conditions. Make sure every glass surface is clear and transparent by using a snow brush and/or ice scraper.  Don’t forget your side-view mirrors and all lights. Clearing the entire car will prevent snow and ice from sliding down on the windshield when stopping or accelerating, as well as blowing off into someone else’s windshield.

Don’t spin your wheels.  Spinning your tires melts the snow and makes the surface even more slippery.  Instead, back off the accelerator and give it just enough gas to make the car move forward. If the car still won’t budge, put sand or cardboard under the tires.