The winter cold can come on quickly and the ice or snow that comes with it can make driving treacherous. You do not want to be literally left out in the cold by having an accident in these conditions. Being prepared to drive in winter elements will allow you to safely arrive at your destination.
Statistics show that nearly seventy percent of deaths in the winter months are due to motor vehicle accidents in the ice and snow. This statistic is backed up by FEMA stating that the leading cause of death during winter storms is from transportation accidents. That is why it is so important to drive carefully when any type of winter weather blows in.
Making the proper preparations can help you and your loved ones make a safe trip. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and US Department of Transportation (DOT) have what they call the three P's of Safe Winter Driving. These P's stand for Prepare, Protect and Prevent; we will concentrate on the first P in this article.
Before leaving on a trip during the winter time, especially if a snow or ice storm is on the radar, get yourself and your vehicle prepared. One way to prepare yourself is to plan out your trip's route. You can do this by using maps and online routing or getting help from an auto club, such as AAA.
If you are bad with directions it might be time to buy a GPS or navigational unit that you can plug in your address and it will route the trip and speak to your when you need to make a turn. This way you can concentrate on the road and not on a map. Also planning out the trip ahead of time means you will know how much time it will take for the drive thus you will not have to rush or drive above what conditions will allow.
Practice driving your vehicle in bad weather. This could actually be considered a forth P it is so important. If you are new to "snow country" or do not have much driving experience in ice or snowy weather, go to a large, open and empty lot and practice maneuvers. Use this practice as a dress rehearsal for being out on the out on the roads where you will be surrounded by other cars.
Rehearse skidding and losing control and regaining it. Work with the brakes so you will know their limits. Pay attention to the longer stopping distance that is needed in inclement weather. Find out the right handling for your car on ice, snow and the mush that results as both melt.
After you are prepared as a driver it is time to prepare your vehicle. Check the car over from battery to back up lights. Make sure everything is in good working order and that the fluids are at the right marks. Check your tires tread and tire pressure.
You should also keep certain items in your car so you will be prepared if the car has mechanical problems or is involved in a collision. You should carry around a flashlight, shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, jumper cables and orange deflective triangles as a warning device. If going on a longer trip a first aid kit, food, water and a cell or mobile phone is recommended. Incase you are stuck out in the vehicle; keep a blanket in the trunk as well so you can keep warm.
If your car does have a breakdown, stall or get in a collision make certain you take proper care of yourself and your passengers. Winter weather is usually too harsh for you to do much good out in the cold. It is recommended for you to stay with the car and not to overexert yourself. Do try to make other cars aware of your vehicle by putting out warning devices such as flares or orange triangles.
If your care does run, only turn on the engine long enough to warm up the interior and then turn it off so you will not get overtaken with fumes. Also roll at least one window down a crack so if the snow piles up you will have some ventilation. Planning your route, practicing how to drive in the winter and making sure your car is in good shape and is well stocked will go a long way toward you arriving at your end point safely and in one piece.