As the weather gets colder, road conditions can get more dangerous. Even without snowfall or rain, frost can accumulate on roads and bridges and lead to an increased number of car crashes. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Ice and snow, take it slow.” In addition to being extra cautious while driving, here are six tips to help you prepare for a safe winter commute.
First, make sure that your tires are inflated properly. The recommended air pressure for winter driving is between 30 and 35 PSI. Your vehicle should have its own specified optimal tire pressure for your front and rear tires. This suggested tire pressure can be found on a sticker usually placed on the inside lip of the driver’s door. Inaccurate air pressure in your vehicle’s tires can create a loss in traction and make it even more difficult to grip snow-covered roads. So make sure to pump those tires up to the recommended PSI.
Second, consider installing a set of winter tires. Although this can be costly, winter tires have special treads that enable your vehicle to maintain traction and handling even on slushy roads. Whether your car is front-wheel, rear-wheel, or even all-wheel drive, a good set of winter tires can help you drive with confidence in slippery conditions.
Third, top off your windshield washer fluid. Good visibility is key to safe driving, no matter the season. In winter, when your windshield is often coated in snow, ice, and road spray, it is vital to have plenty of washer fluid to keep your view of the road clear and unobstructed. You can even purchase special winter washer fluid that has de-icing properties.
Fourth, replace your old wiper blades with newer ones. If your current windshield wipers struggle to clear your view during a rainstorm, they won’t be able to handle the heavier weight of snow and slush. Invest in a sturdier set of winter wipers that can get the job done right.
Fifth, store a bag of kitty litter or sand in your trunk. If you accidentally get stuck in a patch of ice or snow, you can sprinkle sand or kitty litter on the ground by your tires to gain extra traction. This often provides enough grip for your tires to get you out of a jam.
Sixth, make sure to keep an emergency kit in your car in case you get stuck or stranded in the cold. A good winter emergency kit should include non-perishable food, bottled water, an extra jacket, mittens, socks, a beanie or other warm hat, a blanket, a flashlight, jumper cables, an ice scraper, a first aid kit, road flares or reflective warning triangles, and a spare battery pack for your cell phone.
These six tips will help give you the edge on wintery road conditions. However, they are not replacements for driving safely. Please make sure to decrease your speed, increase your following distance, accelerate slowly, minimize distractions, and stay home when possible. Staying safe is much more important than pushing yourself to drive in unfavorable conditions. If you have to drive, be smart and be prepared.