Top 10 Tips: Winter Driving Safety
By Heather Klinefelter, Outreach Specialist
Winter, snow, ice, sleet, and frost are here! Are you ready for your slippery commute? Learn how to stay safe on the roads during bad weather and read on for Commuter Services’ Top 10 Tips for winter commuting.
1 – Be Prepared
Winter weather can be sneaky & treacherous. Be prepared for the unexpected with a winter car kit. Bottled water, granola bars, blankets, and other snacks can come in handy in a pinch. If you get caught in a storm or traffic accident, you’ll have some supplies to see you through. Make sure you have snow removal equipment for your vehicle, some kitty litter or cardboard in case you get stuck, and standard equipment like jumper cables and a flashlight.
2 – Check Your Fluids!
Antifreeze, washer fluid, power steering fluid – make sure they are all topped off and ready for the weather. Depending on your car, you might find yourself going through these faster than usual during the freezing weather.
3 – Battery & Tire Pressure
Make sure that you test your tire pressure regularly. Temperature changes as little as 10 degrees can affect how your tires perform. If you’re getting ready to take a long trip, have your tires and battery tested to make sure they can make the journey!
4 – Low and Slow, that is the Tempo
During inclement weather, be sure to allow enough time to get safely to your destination. Keep your car in a lower gear and make sure to use your low beams instead of high to reduce glare. Increase your following distance by 10 seconds to ensure you have enough time and room to stop.
5 – Ice, Ice, Baby
Black ice is a serious winter hazard. While the road may merely look wet, often in freezing weather it is invisible black ice. Take care not to speed and prepare yourself to take proactive responses if you hit a patch.
6 – Snowplow Etiquette
Do not attempt to pass a snowplow! While it may seem tempting to speed past a plow, it is actually extremely dangerous. Make sure you keep yourself and the plow driver safe by following at a safe distance and not rushing to your destination.
7 – Commuting with Kids
If you are commuting with your kiddos, make sure they are in the appropriately sized safety seat. Spare the fluffy coats – they can affect how well car seat straps work. Instead opt for a lighter tighter fitting jacket and a blanket.
8 – Plan Ahead
Make sure that someone knows where you are going, what your route is, when you are leaving, and when you approximately plan to arrive. That way if you get stranded in bad weather, someone knows when and where to look for you. Bring along a fully charged phone and power block so you can be sure to be able to contact others during an emergency on the road.
9 – Over the River and Through the Woods…
Take caution while traveling to grandma’s house! If the route is snowy and icy, try to avoid large hills and sharp turns. Remember, bridges ice before regular roads because the freezing air is all around them. Go slowly, and if you have a 4WD option, be sure to turn it on.
10 – Snow Removal
We’ve all been there. Driving down the highway and a sheet of snow flies off the car in front of you, covering your windshield in a white out. Don’t be that guy. Leave extra time before you leave to remove the snow from your windows and the top of your vehicle. And remember, in PA, if your wipers are on, your lights need to be on as well.
Treacherous weather is a fact of life in the northeast. Make sure you’re prepared to travel safely this winter. If you are walking, you can read our Walk Like a Penguin Blog HERE. And don’t forget to record your green commutes in Commute PA to earn rewards and improve the environment. Further information on winter driving can be found at: PennDOT, National Safety Council, and the Department of Transportation. Stay safe this winter, and happy holidays!