How ready for winter driving are you?
It’s inevitable that winter will arrive each year, but why do so many drivers make it feel like it’s a surprise? The first snowfall each year shows us drivers spin their wheels while trying to move their vehicle. They also use their coat sleeve to clear their windows, or not clear them at all. What happened to being ready for winter before it snows?
As a rule, I tend to have my winter tires on my vehicle before Halloween. It doesn’t have to snow before you can benefit from these tires. The rubber on a winter tire is softer than that of an all season tire. That allows the tire to grip the road better, even in temperatures above freezing. Typically, once the temperature drops to 7° Celsius, winter tires are more beneficial than all seasons. Winter tires can save you money when you use them since you won’t spin your tires as much, thus wasting fuel. You can brake under better control and steer more effectively. Those issues alone will help you reduce the risk of winter collisions.
Have your vehicle properly tuned for the winter weather. This would include changing the oil and filter, checking the cooling and heating systems, checking the battery, exhaust system, windshield wipers and all exterior lights. No one wants to be stranded in a snow storm because they didn’t prepare their vehicle for that season.
Having the proper equipment in your vehicle before the snow flies will also give you piece of mind for the unexpected…and expected. You should have the following items safely and securely stored in your vehicle; a long handled scraper and snow brush, a shovel, extra windshield washer fluid, a flashlight, reflective triangles or flares, a candle, candle holder and lighter, a blanket, a mixture of salt/sand or kitty litter for traction, a first aid kit, booster cables and even a tow rope. Additional gloves and socks will also help in case those items get too wet. Having 2 plastic bags can help keep your feet warm and dry. If the inside of your boots get wet, change into dry socks and put your feet inside the plastic bags and then inside your boots. The plastic bag will also act like an insulator.
Most of these items can fit into a duffle bag of some sort to help keep your trunk space tidy. Items to keep inside your vehicle could include unopened bottles of water, non-perishable foods like granola bars or nuts, a cell phone and extra batteries for the flashlight.
Now that your vehicle is ready for winter, your winter way of thinking must also be ready. Remind yourself that the traffic patterns slow down in poor winter weather. That means leaving earlier for work so that you’re not rushing yourself and making poor decisions. You need a larger
following distance in traffic and you’ll also need to brake earlier and more gradually on snow covered roads.
Ensuring you’re ready for winter; both physically and mentally will help you get through this season relatively safe and sound.