When you’re behind the wheel you should always be cautious, respectful to other drivers, and focused on the road ahead. This is especially true during the winter months when outside factors such as snow, frost, and black ice can lead to accidents and damage. Winter driving safety is all about taking precautions and adjusting your driving habits to reduce the risk of an accident. These winter driving safety tips will help you travel safely this winter.
Clean Frost and Snow from Windshield
You’re running late for school or work and your windshield is coated in snow or frost. Sure, it’s frustrating, but driving with compromised visibility is not a wise decision. Full visibility is crucial for safe driving. Taking the time to clean off your windshield might make you a few minutes late, but it could also prevent an accident. Always clean frost off your front and back windshields and make sure that you have good visibility through the side windows. Remove any snow or frost from your side mirrors as well.
How to Remove Frost from Windshield
Windshield scrapers can be used to manually remove the frost or snow if your windshield wipers are frozen in place. If you don’t have a windshield scraper, an old credit card will do the job. You can purchase a glass treatment to reduce the amount of frost that forms on your windshield or a melting solution to help clean it off quicker. If you are anticipating especially cold weather or heavy snowfall, consider covering your windshield. Specially designed covers can be purchased, but a rubber mat or tarp will do the job too.
It’s easy to get lost in the music, distracted by conversation, or fall into a daze while driving. It is important to stay focused and always drive cautiously, especially in the winter when snowfall can obstruct your view and ice can affect your ability to steer and stop. Follow the speed limit, allow adequate space between your car and the car in front of you, and be cognizant of high-risk areas such as bridges.
Slow your Roll
Although many of us drive 5 to 10 miles per hour (or more) over the speed limit on a regular basis, speeding during the winter is particularly dangerous. Speed limits are put into place to keep drivers safe and speeding puts you and other drivers in danger. Following the speed limit reduces the risk of an accident and allows you to spot icy spots ahead.
Do not Tailgate
Following too closely behind the car in front of you is never a good idea, especially since rear-ending someone is almost always considered your fault in the eyes of the law and insurance companies. Follow the 3-second rule when determining how far to follow behind the car in front of you. When a car passes a street sign or any other stationary object alongside the road, it should take you at least 3 seconds to pass the same object. This doesn’t mean a quick one, two, three—it means 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi.
Beware of Bridges
You may have seen road signs that say, “Bridge Ices Before Road”. It’s true, ice forms on bridges and overpasses faster than it does on normal roads. Bridges freeze faster because the top and bottom are exposed to cold air compared to only one side of normal roads. Car accidents on bridges have a higher fatality rate and Winter weather only adds to the danger. Don’t be surprised by ice on a bridge–use caution when approaching bridges, slow down, follow the speed limit, and do not follow too closely behind the car in front of you.
Pay Attention to Weather Reports
Whether you prefer to watch the local news or use an app on your smartphone, paying attention to weather forecasts during the winter is part of being a safe driver. If you are ambushed by a blizzard, you could find yourself snowed in or stranded somewhere that you don’t want to be, or worse, stuck on the side of the road. If you are a new driver or do not have experience driving in snow, paying attention to weather reports will help you avoid driving in conditions that you are not comfortable with.
Black ice is extremely dangerous because it is difficult to see. If you aren’t aware of where it forms and how to spot it, you could find yourself spinning out of control. Black ice is difficult to see because it forms on dark surfaces such as asphalt. The only visible difference is that patches of black ice will appear shinier during the daytime than the rest of the road, but at night they blend in. Black ice usually forms in shaded areas, low areas where water pools, and on bridges. Reduce your speed and be extra vigilant when you drive across these areas.
If you hit a patch of black ice, you might lose control of your vehicle. The worst thing that you can do in this situation is jerk the steering wheel or slam on the brakes, this will only cause you to spin. If you hit black ice, take your feet off the pedals and keep the steering wheel steady.
Check your Tires
When the temperature starts to drop it’s important to check your tires to make sure they are ready for winter weather. Check your tires’ tread and air pressure before you hit the road this winter.
The first thing you should do is check the tread. The most dangerous part of driving during the winter is the potential to slip and slide out of control on the frozen road. Tire treads give your car traction and grip the road to reduce the likelihood of spinning out. Make sure that your tires have plenty of tread and are not worn down.
Cold weather causes tire pressure to drop and low tire pressure reduces traction and makes it more difficult to stop. Some cars inform you of each tire’s pressure, if yours does not you will need a tire pressure gauge. If your tire pressure is low, use an air compressor or an air pump at the gas station to inflate them to the optimal level.
Prepare your Truck for Winter with Certified Diesel Solutions
Taking your diesel vehicle to an experienced diesel mechanic is the best way to ensure that it’s ready for Winter. Certified Diesel Solutions provides exceptional service and routine tractor-trailer maintenance in the Knoxville area. We service entire fleets as well as personally owned trucks. Let us check out your truck to make sure that your engine and tires are ready for the icy roads ahead.