Winter Weather: How to Stay in Control Behind the Wheel
Snow, high winds, fog, and rain pose threats to motorists throughout the winter months, when safe driving and well-maintained vehicles take on even greater importance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). In order to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, the I.I.I. offers the following winter driving tips:
- Give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination. Trips can take longer during winter than other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads.
- Drive slowly because accelerating, stopping and turning all take longer on snow-covered roads.
- Leave more distance than usual between your vehicle and the one just ahead of you, giving yourself at least 10 seconds to come to a complete stop. Cars and motorcycles usually need at least 3 seconds to halt completely when traveling on dry pavement.
- Be careful when driving over bridges, as well as roadways rarely exposed to sunlight-they are often icy when other areas are not.
- Avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
- Be sure to keep your gas tank full. Stormy weather or traffic delays may force you to change routes or turn back. A fuller gas tank also averts the potential freezing of your car's gas-line.
- Keep windshield and windows clear. Drivers in cold-weather states should have a snow brush or scraper in their vehicle at all times. Your car's defroster can be supplemented by wiping the windows with a clean cloth to improve visibility.
- Do not activate your cruise control when driving on a slippery surface.
- Do not warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Keep your tires properly inflated and remember that good tread on your tires is essential to safe winter driving.
- Check your exhaust pipe to make sure it is clear. A blocked pipe could cause a leakage of carbon monoxide gas into your car when the vehicle's engine is running.
- Monitor the weather conditions at your destination before beginning your trip. If conditions look as though they are going to be too hazardous, just stay home.