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Thursday, November 09, 2006
Prepare for Winter Driving Conditions Now
Follow These Winter-Driving Tips to Get There and Back Safely
The return of cold weather means driving in snow is around the corner, and it’s always a good idea to remember these safety tips:
• Check that your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in good working condition.
• Make sure your vehicle’s anti-freeze and windshield washer fluids are filled to their proper levels. Keep a windshield brush, ice scraper, gloves, a blanket and a flashlight readily available in your vehicle.
• Make sure your tires are accurately inflated and the tread is not worn. Remember, accidents can still happen even if you are driving with studded snow tires.
• Be certain that your vehicle is properly tuned and that your exhaust system is in correct working order.
• Consider carrying chains; be sure they are the correct size for your tires and are in good working order. Carry a flashlight and chain repair links. Chains must be installed on the drive wheels, so it is important that you know if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive.
• On long winter trips, it is a recommended that you carry water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing in your vehicle.
• Trips can take longer than expected during winter than other times of year, particularly if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads, so be sure make an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination. Let a friend or loved one know WHERE you're going, WHAT route you'll be driving, WHEN you expect to arrive and WHO to call if there is a problem.
• Take the time to keep your windshield and windows clear. Scraping a "porthole" in your windows is not safe; be sure to clear the entire window, or give your defroster enough time to melt the ice.
• Be sure that snow and ice are not blocking out your headlights and taillights. For better visibility in storm conditions, it’s always smart to drive with your lights ON.
• Loose snow and ice on the roof of your car can cause dangerous driving conditions. It will slide off the roof and cover your windshield as you're driving or fly off onto someone else's windshield, potentially causing them to lose control of their vehicle.
• Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions, so be extra observant and drive defensively. Slow down and keep an eye out for other vehicles. During a storm, visibility may be so restricted that it is difficult to see the flashing lights of slow moving equipment. Remember, during the winter, stopping distances become longer.
• While driving in snow, your vehicle’s tires are always just barely grasping the road. Rapid movements lead to skids and loss of control. Always accelerate, turn, and brake slowly and gently. Anticipate turns and stops. Leave plenty of distance between you and other cars.
• Do not use your cruise control while driving in winter storm conditions.
• Do not use your cell phone, don't fiddle with the radio and do not allow your passengers distract you.
• Of course, everyone in your vehicle needs to wear his or her seatbelts.
• Plan your trips carefully and listen to the local weather reports or the National Weather Service for the predicted weather conditions along your travel route. DO NOT call 911 to inquire about road conditions, it is for emergencies only. Get the weather report for your route beforehand, or pull over and dial 511 or call 1-800-THRUWAY to get the latest statewide and regional road conditions.
• The safest place to drive during a snowstorm is behind the plow. Motorists should always maintain a safe following distance behind the plow; do not tailgate. If you can't see the snowplow’s mirrors, the snowplow driver can't see you. And DO NOT pass a snowplow on the right when they are plowing—EVER!
Despite their simplicity, hundreds of accidents occur every year because drivers failed to follow one or more of these safe-driving tips. Do not become a statistic—think before you drive!
The National Safety Commission recommends The Driver Education Handbook for Parents as a valuable teaching tool for parents who are concerned with their teen's driving safety and understand the value of quality instruction.