How to Drive Safely in Winter Weather

Winter is upon us, and in many states in the US, this means the temperature drops, the days get shorter, and there is a whole new set of rules for driving. Whether you need to put chains on your tires or not, it is always good to be reminded of some winter driving tips, and how to drive safely in winter weather in Georgia.

We know to be careful when driving on ice and snow, but did you know that 17% of all vehicle crashes happen during winter conditions, according to the NHTSA. But there is more to winter driving than simply being careful on the road: you need to think about preparing your car for winter, driving tips to remind yourself during winter weather, and what to do to prepare for and when an emergency happens.

Prepare Your Car

Being prepared is the first step in driving safely in the winter weather. Here are some tips to help get your car ready:

  • Pack a winter box – keep a box of items in your car that you may need. Pack a blanket, extra hat and gloves, water, food, phone charger, shovel, and other necessary items.
  • Test car battery – when the temperature drops, the power on the battery drops.
  • Take care of your tires – if needed, make sure your winter tires have a deeper and more flexible tread. Check your tire pressure – the pressure of your tires decreases when the outside temperature drops.
  • Add anti-freeze – having anti-freeze in your cooling system will help by lowering the freezing point of the water in your radiator.
  • Check wiper blades – replace wiper blades when necessary. Also, make sure your wiper fluid is rated for your winter temperatures.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full – condensation can sometimes form in the empty areas of the gas tank. During the winter, the condensation can freeze in your gas lines.
  • Clean the side mirrors – make sure the outside mirrors and cameras are clear of any snow or road dirt.

Check your car’s manual for other tips and instructions to prepare your vehicle for winter. Keeping your car clean and ready for the cold weather will help keep it moving.

Remind yourself of how to drive safely in winter weather

Summer driving and winter driving are definitely different skills. We sometimes forget that we have to drive differently during that first snowfall. Here are some tips to remember:

  • Avoid using cruise control – you never want to lose traction on ice while driving with cruise control. It’s a good rule to avoid turning on the cruise control during the winter months.
  • Slow down – driving on snow and ice requires more stopping time, so slow down when driving during the winter.
  • Plan your route – it’s good to know if your commonly driven roads are closed due to not being plowed. Check with your state or county services to determine the best driving route.
  • Turn into the slide – if your car is sliding on ice, gently turn into the slide and carefully apply or pump the brakes. Do not oversteer, or regaining control once on the dry road will be difficult.

Winter driving is challenging, even for the most experienced drivers. So remind yourself that you need extra time when driving in the winter.

In Case of Emergency

Accidents and breakdowns happen. Here are some tips to follow if you find yourself stuck along the side of the road during winter:

  • Stay with your car – you have temporary shelter in your vehicle, and it makes it easier for someone to find you. 
  • Be visible – hang a bright piece of cloth or clothing on your car antenna or at the top of a closed window. A bright color will get people’s attention.
  • Clear area around exhaust pipe – make sure there is no snow blocking the exhaust pipe. 
  • Don’t over-exert yourself – Take brakes if you have to dig yourself out. Clear a bit, then rest before clearing the next area.

Being prepared for driving safely in winter weather and knowing the road conditions is your first step to safe winter driving. Remember, driving on snow and ice has unique challenges – take it slow and don’t try to rush things. If you have an accident or get stuck, call for help and stay with your car.

When You Need an Attorney

If you are in an accident, make sure you are safely out of traffic before exiting your car. If there is minor damage, exchange insurance information with the other driver and take pictures of the damage. It is not a bad idea to call a Georgia personal injury attorney as soon as you get home. You may need their services concerning this accident, and contacting an attorney right away allows you to give the lawyer all the details while fresh in your mind. 

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