Winter driving tips

Over 5.8 Million vehicle crashes occur each year on U.S. roads. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, 1.24 million of these crashes are caused by weather. Holidays could make roads even more dangerous: Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day 2019, there were over 1,250 deaths.

You can help your family and friends stay safe in extreme winter weather by simply being alert, slowing down, and leaving more space between cars. This is what you should know before you take to the roads this winter.

Facts about driving in cold weather

FHWA defines a weather-related accident as one that occurs during adverse weather conditions like rain, snow and fog. It is a part of everyday life for 47,000,000 Americans living in extreme weather areas.

These statistics are provided by the Federal Highway Administration:

  • Snowy conditions account for approximately 17% of all car accident deaths. (FHWA).
  • An estimated 156,164 auto accidents occur each year on icy pavement. (FHWA).
  • Each year, more than 1,800 people are killed by snow and ice. (FHWA).
  • On snowy roads, it takes 10 times longer for you to stop. (AAA).
  • About 70% of U.S. roads pass through snowy areas, increasing the risk of an accident. (FHWA).

Before you go

These are some of the things you should do before you set out on your journey.

  1. Learn how to use Traction Control. To learn the best traction control for your vehicle, consult your manual. To help your tires traction control, you can use kitty litter to cover the pavement if they are spinning.
  2. Make sure to check the forecast. Weather patterns change rapidly and can sometimes be unpredictable. Make sure to check the forecast before you make any decisions about whether to avoid any upcoming storms.
  3. Expect delays. You should expect delays from snow, flooding, or wind-blown debris. To account for traffic-related delays or weather conditions, add extra time to your itinerary.
  4. Map out an extra route. Plan out alternate routes. This will help you to know where to go in case of bad weather.
  5. Avoid overpasses and bridges. Avoid bridges and overpasses when mapping your route. These surfaces can trap more water and freeze faster.
  6. Drive sober. Driving drunk can significantly increase your chances of being in an accident. Be aware of drunk drivers who may be driving erratically or pose a danger to your safety.
  7. Make sure you plan ahead. Plan ahead if you suspect you might drink.
  8. You should bring your phone accessories. To keep your phone charged, bring a car charger or a mobile phone charger.
  9. Make sure you are following the rules of the road. Driving rules can vary between locations, so make sure to check if there are any local laws that may impact your trip.
  10. Learn winter driving skills. For any additional tips that can help your vehicle handle inclement weather, check your vehicle’s manual.

Tips for driving on ice and snow

On average, snow is responsible for 219.942 crashes. Ice causes more than 156,000 accidents. These tips can be used to drive in snow and ice because there is a high chance of an accident.

  1. Speed should be reduced. To maintain safe driving conditions, the FHWA recommends a 10% to 25% reduction in speed for wet pavements and up to 40% for snowy/slushy pavements.
  2. Practice defensive driving. Allow cars to merge in front and give extra space between them to reduce the risk of distracted driving.
  3. Avoid phone use. Avoid using a handheld mobile phone. This is against the law in many jurisdictions. It can also increase your chances for an accident on the roads.
  4. Remain alert. Keep an eye out for other cars and keep a safe distance.
  5. Pause. Allow for breaks in your itinerary to avoid tired driving.
  6. Slow down when you drive through intersections. Wait for a second if you are stopped at a red light before turning around.
  7. Black ice is a danger. Black ice can be almost invisible when it is on the road surface, so drive slowly.
  8. Avoid snowplows. These trucks will likely slow down, turn slowly and weave between lanes.
  9. Always keep an emergency kit. You should also have an emergency kit.
  10. Always keep a full tank. You should be prepared for any delays by making sure you have enough fuel to get you through traffic and other problems.
  11. Make sure children and passengers are secured. For children under 13, you should secure them in the backseat using car seats or booster seats.
  12. You should be careful when driving your car. Running cars can cause asphyxiation, which can lead carbon monoxide poisoning. Avoid driving your car for prolonged periods of time and avoid parking your car in enclosed spaces.
  13. When you stop, be safe. Keep your car running until you are rescued. Clear any snow from the exhaust pipe if you have to stop your car.

Safety of your vehicle

To keep your car running at its best , it needs regular maintenance . Your car can be damaged by snow and ice if it is located in an area that is susceptible to flooding.

To check if your vehicle has been reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), you can use the free recall search tool. You could get your vehicle repaired free of charge if there are any recalls by the manufacturer.

To protect yourself better on the road, you should also check these items.

  • Check your lights: Make sure you check all lights in your vehicle, including brake lights, headlights and hazards, as well as turn signals, hazards, and interior lights.
  • Battery: Cold temperatures can cause battery damage, as can electric or hybrid vehicles.
  • Coolant: Refer to your vehicle manual for the best coolant.
  • For optimal visibility, ensure that your windshield wipers are clean and in good working order.
  • Floor mats: If your shoes track snow and water into the car, retention clips can be used to prevent floor mats from sliding.
  • Scrapers: It’s a smart idea to have an ice scraper in your car in case you find yourself in an area that is covered in snow and ice.

Other vehicle-specific items such as antilock brakes and electronic stability control systems should also be regularly checked.

Tire safety

According to the NHTSA, a staggering 90% of motor vehicle crashes were caused by tire failure.

There are some things you should remember when maintaining your tires safety.

  • Check tire pressure. To determine the best tire pressure for your vehicle, consult your owner’s guide. Wait until the tires have cooled down before checking the pressure. This should take about three hours from the last time the tires were used.
  • Make sure you have a spare tire. Check your spare tire for damage or wear.
  • Inspect tires for damages. To ensure that your tires are in good condition, you should inspect them at least once per month.
  • The tread should be measured. Your ideal tread should not exceed 2/32 inches.
  • You should check the age of your tires. Check the date to determine if your tire needs to be replaced. Tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years.
  • Consider adding snow tires if you’re traveling in a snowy region. They will better grip the roads and deal with the snow and ice.

If you’re not careful, winter weather can make roads treacherous. Preparation is key to winter driving safety. You can prepare your vehicle for winter ahead of time so that you and your family can enjoy all the best parts of winter.