Since some more snowy weather may be headed our way, I thought I would pass along some cold weather driving tips courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Administration and the American Automobile Association:
- First and foremost, make sure your car is ready for the cold weather. Have your mechanic check your battery to make sure it’s charging properly and that belts, hoses, tires and brakes are in good working condition. Breakdowns in the middle of nowhere are not fun in cold weather.
- Never “warm up” your vehicle in a closed garage. Carbon monoxide is one of the by-products of combustion. Inhaling it can result in illness or death.
- Fill your windshield washer reservoir with high-quality “no-freeze” fluid and make sure your wiper blades are in good condition. Driving with a smeared windshield is not only annoying, it’s dangerous. Sunlight and headlight glare can be a real problem. Don’t forget a snow brush and ice scraper. In a pinch, a credit card will work for ice removal – but it may result in the need for a new card.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to help prevent the fuel lines from freezing – running out of gas in cold weather can result in a long cold walk to the nearest gas station.
- Reduce your speed. It’s hard to stop on icy or snow covered roads. Increase your following distance to allow plenty of time to stop. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Know what kind of braking system your car has. Anti-lock brakes require a firm continuous pressure to work properly. If you don’t have anti lock brakes, pump the brake pedal gently. Allow plenty of time to get to your destination – Don’t rush!
- Bridges freeze faster than roads. The temperature of the bridge can be five or six degrees colder than road temperatures. Approach bridges and intersections with caution as they may look wet but actually be covered with “black” ice.
- It’s wise to keep an emergency bag in your trunk. Stock it with a snow shovel, some sort of abrasive material like kitty litter (not a clumping type) or sand, jumper cables – useful all year round, and warning devices such as flares. Add a blanket or two, some bottled water and packaged munchies and you’ll be ready for any emergency.
- Finally, ALWAYS remember to buckle up!