You’ve already prepared and gotten your vehicle ready for winter. But, now you have to drive in winter conditions, are you prepared? Life doesn’t stop because of the change of seasons, so whether or not you’ve driven in winter conditions before it is important to know certain things before hitting the road. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this season!
Check the current and anticipated road conditions. This may seem like a no-brainer, but always check the weather before heading out. You don’t want any surprises when it comes to your commute and winter, especially in Memphis, can bring a lot of surprises your way! It may be sixty degrees when you hit the road in the morning, but below freezing the next day if a cold front comes through. Be prepared and plan ahead!
Map your journey. If you are use to taking back roads and bridges on your commute, think about switching up your route if there is snow or ice. Main bridges and highways are the first to freeze over, but also the first to be salted by the city. It will be safer to drive on a salted overpass than a back road that no one has driven over. Whether you need to switch up your commute or not, be prepared to leave a little earlier than usual so that you can take your time navigating the roads.
Keep your tank as full as possible. The lower your gas, the greater the risk of your gas line freezing. Avoid this by making sure the gas tank stays at least half full during winter storms or freezing temperatures. Having a full gas tank will also help your car stay running so that you can keep warm in case of being stranded.
Be cautious driving in precipitation. Drive slowly and avoid distractions. Texting and driving or driving under the influence can be especially hazardous in winter storms. Driving slower will help you in case you have to stop suddenly because it’s easier to find traction going slower. Keep your following distance even greater than you normally do so if your car starts to slide, you don't hit the car in front of you. Know whether or not you have anti-lock brakes and test them before you hit the roads, or when winterizing your vehicle. If your car is not equipped with anti-lock brakes, be sure to pump them a few times if you start to feel them lock up.
Know what you SHOULDN’T do in winter conditions:
- Don't warm your car up in an enclosed space as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Don’t drive if the conditions are hazardous (if you can avoid it).
- Don’t accelerate rapidly.
- Don’t mix radial tires with regular tires.
- Don’t stop when going uphill.
- Don’t try to push your vehicle out of the snow if you get stranded.
- Don’t use cruise control in winter weather.
Winter weather is certainly beautiful, and can be fun to play in with friends and family, but it is not to be messed with when driving! Stay safe on the road with these tips and prepare your vehicle by following these simple steps.