Fall has fallen and winter is not that far away. With the cold weather come harsh driving conditions along dangerous roads, especially here in the mountains of West Virginia. Driving in winter weather is no simple task and many face challenges at some point during the season while behind the wheel.
The following is a list of ten tips and tricks to help keep you safe on the roads this winter:
- Routine Maintenance – Prior to the winter season, take your car to a mechanic and have the following checked: battery, antifreeze level, thermostat, heater, brakes, and defroster.
- Check Your Tires – Check to ensure your tires have adequate tread. If the treads are worn, replace them. Better yet, exchange them for a set of snow tires, which have treads that provide better traction and are equipped to handle extreme winter driving conditions.
- Improve Visibility – Often in the winter, the windshield wiper fluid may freeze. Instead of toughing it out until spring, exchange the fluid with one made especially to spray in freezing conditions.
- Replace Wiper Blades – Similarly, purchase winter wiper blades to cut through snow and ice instead of using regular ones throughout the year.
- Un-block Spray Nozzles – Check the spray nozzles of your windshield-washer system. Sometimes, they get blocked by wax or debris. Use a needle or pin to clear blocked nozzles.
- Fuel Up – Keep the gas tank at least half full throughout the winter. This will reduce condensation, making your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
- Be Prepared – Always store a snow/ice scraper and a shovel in your vehicle. A first aid kit is another must-have item to keep on hand. It should include all the usual items plus winter extras like flashlights, a fresh supply of batteries, blankets, matches, extra clothes, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Peanuts and granola bars are good protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods.
- Pack Some Weight– For rear-wheel drive vehicles, you might want to keep a small bag of sand in your trunk to create traction under the tires if you get stuck. The bulk of a vehicle’s weight is the engine, in the front of the car. If the car is driven by its rear wheels instead of its front wheels, the heavy front end and light back end makes the car prone to slide around an ice- or snow-covered road.
- Steer Clear of Trucks – They are heavier than cars and need considerably longer stopping distances. Their tires also tend to spray snow and rain into parallel lanes, further hindering your visibility.
- Don’t Be Overconfident – If you have a vehicle with four- or all-wheel drive, don’t get overconfident and rely on its abilities to get you out of a problem. The traction and force created by all four wheels driving instead of two helps you get going from a stop, but does not assist your vehicle’s braking ability. In fact, AWD- and 4WD-equipped vehicles are heavier than 2WD vehicles and require more time and braking power to come to a stop.
The key to safe winter driving is to be prepared and plan ahead. Talk with your Allegheny Insurance agent to make sure you’re covered for whatever Old Man Winter throws at you this season.