Even a more experienced driver can have problems driving in icy, snowy conditions. In Western Pennsylvania, with hilly and mountainous roads, traveling can be even more dangerous in a winter storm. You never know when you might have visibility problems due to fog or blowing snow, or if you might hit an unexpected patch of black ice.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 17% of all vehicle accidents happen due to winter road conditions. So now that winter has arrived, it’s always a good idea to keep these five driving tips in mind:
- Have your car serviced. You want to know that your vehicle is ready for what winter may bring. So, get a fresh oil change. Have your brakes and your battery checked. Make sure your tires are inflated properly and aren’t too worn and need to be replaced. Make sure you have any alignment issues fixed, so you’ll know your vehicle is road worthy for the coming months.
- Keep your windows clear. Make sure your windshield wiper fluid reserve is filled anytime before you plan on taking a longer winter trip or you know a storm is coming. You want to be able to keep your windows clear in bad conditions. Also, be sure you have a good windshield scraper and brush in your vehicle for when you need to clear your windows after your vehicle has been sitting outside.
- Slow down and don’t tailgate. Any time, the roads are snowy or icy, reduce your speed and allow more distance between you and the driver ahead of you. This will give you more time to react if you need to suddenly stop and reduce your chances of hitting someone else if your vehicle skids near a stoplight or stop sign.
- Avoid distractions and keep both hands on the wheel. Distracted driving, including eating, using your phone or grooming behind the wheel, is never safe. It’s even more dangerous when the roads aren’t easy to navigate because of ice and snow.
- Be prepared for an emergency. Make sure you have a first aid kit, a flashlight, a blanket and jumper cables in your trunk. If you get stranded or you need to help someone else who is, these will come in handy.
Winter weather driving is never easy. If you are familiar with your vehicle, its features and how it handles in the snow, that helps. But taking these extra precautions will ensure you arrive to your next destination safely, no matter what the road conditions are like.