Now that we have experienced the first snowy day of the winter, and can certainly expect many more over the next few months, it is a good idea to take some time to review winter weather driving tips and car maintenance to keep you and your family safe during the snowy months.
Before the weather gets too bad, you should try to get your car in to make sure it is up to speed on all maintenance. Having a car breakdown in the cold and snow is not only much more unpleasant to deal with than other times of the year, it can also be much riskier. Slippery conditions can increase the risk that you could be struck by a passing vehicle while you are trying to change a tire or call for help from the side of the road. The weather is also darker for much longer during the day, and falling snow or freezing rain can further impair visibility. Make sure all of your tires are in good repair and properly inflated. Changes in temperature can affect the amount of air in your tires from day to day, and so it is important to keep an eye on the tire pressure regularly. Make sure your brakes are also in good condition to help avoid skidding and help you stop safely even when the roads are slick. Having working windshield wipers and defrosters also helps you maintain visibility.
Stock up your car with a snow scraper, flashlight, a blanket, and extra hats and gloves in the event you do need to deal with a broken down car or tire change. Keep a phone charger in your car at all times to ensure you will be able to call for assistance if necessary. If you are taking a long trip, pack some snacks and water as well. It is also smart to keep your car at a half tank or more of fuel at all times in the winter, rather than waiting to fill up only when you are on empty. Drives can take much longer when it is snowing heavily, and the last thing you want to risk is running out of gas. Having gas in the tank can also help to keep the car warm while you wait for help, if it is safe to keep the car running for heat in the meantime.
If the weather gets especially inclement, you may want to reconsider whether you need to be out driving or if that trip can wait until conditions clear up. Of course, there are times when driving in the snow cannot be avoided. When that is the case, try to check the expected weather conditions for your route and stick to roads that are more likely to be plowed, iced, and patrolled by police. Let a friend or family member know what route you plan to take, and check in when you can safely do so to let them know your progress and where you are at. Maintain a safe, cautious speed, and use your hazard flashers if necessary to alert other vehicles who may not be able to see you until they are very close to you. If the weather gets too bad and you need to stop and wait it out, try to do so on an actual exit or at a rest stop or other location where you will be sure you are away from traffic and can securely stop your car.
The winter weather can bring a lot of additional stress and inconvenience, especially when trying to get around to all of the places that you need to go, but taking some extra time to plan and get to your destination can help alleviate some of the stress and help keep the roads safe.