Safe winter driving is important, even Southern states are going to be colder and wetter this year.
Colder temperatures, icy conditions and snow can create a potentially dangerous situation on the roads. Since Nick lived in Minnesota most of his life, and I lived ‘Up North’ for half of mine, we feel especially qualified to offer you guys some tips on safe winter driving.
I remember a couple of years ago driving in a snowstorm from Alexandria, MN to a small town west of Fargo, ND. We had to make an important appointment and would drive back again the same day (170 miles one way). My car was in the shop at the time, so Nick drove us in his little tin can of a car, an older Ford Focus. He had white knuckles from grabbing the steering wheel so hard, and a very stiff neck, when we finally got back home.
We survived this long drive thanks to Nick’s excellent driving skills, but this outing as well as many other winter trips we’ve taken over the years, could have ended very badly. That’s why it’s so important to take a few extra steps, and think ahead, during the cold winter months. We taught the following winter driving tips to our kids when they first getting behind the wheel.
5 Winter Driving Tips
#1 – Be Prepared
Check your headlights, car battery, brakes, tires, windshield (get small chips repaired) and windshield wipers to make sure they work properly. It’s best to keep a full tank of gas in your car to keep the fuel line from freezing when it gets bitterly cold outside. Click for Money Saving Driving Tips that will help conserve gasoline and prevent early maintenance costs.
Have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle, this might save your life one day if you get stranded in the middle of nowhere. Include the following: a shovel, blankets, flashlights, extra batteries, gloves, hat, (scarf and boots if you don’t wear them in the winter), an ice scraper, jumper cables, snacks and water.
#2 – Clean Off Your Car
Remove the snow and ice from your headlights, tail lights, windows (front, back and sides), mirrors and hood. If there has been a lot of snow remember to remove the snow from the roof of your vehicle as well. Make sure you can see and your fellow motorists can see you.
#3 Give Yourself Space
When roads are slick or have patches of ice, stay eight to ten seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you. Give yourself enough time and space to be able to stop! According to AAA Roadside Assistance (we have been members since 2002): “At zero degrees Fahrenheit, a car needs twice as much distance to stop as it does at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.”.
#4 Don’t Be Too Confident
Four-wheel drive may get you out of your snow covered driveway, but it’s not going to help you stop on an icy intersection. Practice driving on snowy, icy roads instead of relying on your vehicles built-in ‘gadgets’. ABS will not necessarily help if you hit a patch of black ice either.
#5 Slow Down
This is the most important tip of them all! “Nearly 75% of drivers report speeding as a serious problem”, says Hannah Elliott, a Forbes magazine staff writer. ” 20% say they have driven 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on the highway, and 14% say they occasionally do the same on a neighborhood street.” Slow down and keep your eyes on the road, not your cell phone or GPS. Also keep in mind that posted speed limits are made for ideal road and weather conditions, not snow and ice.
While driving in winter conditions, take it especially easy during starts, stops and turns. Avoid hard accelerations and braking, try to keep the vehicle moving as smooth as possible. High speeds and jerky movements can send your vehicle into a skid or spin in a blink of an eye.
It’s always better to arrive safe, than not at all!
Do you have any additional safe winter driving tips? Leave us a comment below.
Stay warm this winter and drive safe!
Nick and Silke