As the winter season makes road traveling unpredictable, having a plan and being aware of potential hazards becomes imperative. At FNIC, we prioritize your well-being on the road, which is why we've compiled a guide to safe winter driving practices.
- The Basics
Slow Down and Increase Following Distance
Winter roads demand a more cautious approach. In 2021 alone, there were 121,156 police-reported crashes in snow or sleet conditions. To mitigate risks, reduce your speed and maintain a safe following distance. Allow ample time to stop, especially when road conditions are slippery.
Avoid Crowding Snowplows
Snowplows, essential for road maintenance, have distinct driving patterns. Keep a safe distance, as these vehicles travel slowly, make wide turns, and may stop frequently. If you find yourself behind a snowplow, exercise caution and maintain a safe distance.
- What to Do in an Emergency
Stay Focused and Visible
In case of a stall or emergency, prioritize the safety of yourself and passengers. Stay with your vehicle, use bright markers for visibility, and keep the interior dome light on. Be cautious about carbon monoxide poisoning, ensuring your exhaust pipe is clear and running the car intermittently for warmth.
- Changes You May Notice
Cold temperatures affect tire pressure, necessitating regular checks and adherence to the manufacturer's recommended inflation levels. Monitor tire age, inspect for damage, and consider installing snow tires for enhanced winter traction.
In colder weather, ensure proper harness fit for children in car seats. Choose thin, warm layers over heavy coats, securing the harness snugly before adding extra layers for warmth. Follow NHTSA's child passenger safety recommendations for the right seat for your child's age and size.
Cold weather diminishes battery power. Have your battery, charging system, and belts checked by a mechanic, reducing the risk of starting issues in winter.
Understand your vehicle's safety technologies and their performance in wintry conditions. Familiarize yourself with antilock brake systems and other driver assistance technologies to ensure effective usage.
Switch to thicker or rubberized floor mats in winter to prevent interference with pedals. Install mats correctly using retention clips, ensuring they are the right size for your vehicle.
- Preparing Your Vehicle
Lights, Windshield Wipers, and Cooling System
Regularly check and maintain headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and windshield wipers. Ensure your vehicle's cooling system meets manufacturer specifications. Top up coolant, address leaks, and consider a tune-up before winter sets in.
- Before You Go
Stock Your Vehicle
Carry essential items for winter driving tasks and emergencies, including a snow shovel, jumper cables, blankets, and a cell phone with a charger. Keep your gas tank close to full for optimal performance.
Plan Your Route
Check local weather and traffic reports before setting out. Postpone non-essential travel in unfavorable conditions and inform others of your route and estimated arrival time. Plan stops for rest and necessities on longer trips.
- Year-Round Safety
Check for Recalls
Use NHTSA's Recalls Look-up Tool to determine if your vehicle has any outstanding safety recalls. Stay informed about critical issues and address them promptly to ensure your safety.
Avoid Risky Driving Behaviors
Follow traffic rules diligently, refrain from distracted driving, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Always wear your seat belt and stay focused on responsible driving practices.
By adopting these winter driving practices, you not only safeguard yourself and your passengers but also contribute to safer roads for everyone. At FNIC, we prioritize your safety throughout the seasons. Drive responsibly, stay informed, and enjoy a secure winter on the roads.