5 tips for safe winter driving

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Melissa Crossman
Melissa Crossman lives in Indianapolis with her two dogs. She enjoys cooking and volunteering in her community.
Melissa Crossman
Melissa Crossman
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That winter wonderland that you sing about can be a nightmare on the road. The combination of colder weather, slick roads and the salt and chemicals used to keep the roads safe for traffic can wreak havoc on your car.

While there are many driving myths floating around the Internet, the following is some advice you can count on to help keep you safe:

Check tire pressure

Checking your tire pressure is a pain in nice weather, let alone when it’s 10 degrees below freezing. However, it’s important to check your tire pressure, since an underinflated tire will have less traction in snow and slushy roads. Also, for every 10 degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature, your tires lose another pound of pressure. Check these numbers before each long trip and keep your tires inflated so that you can stay in control behind the wheel.

Test battery life

Take advantage of vehicle repair shops that will test your battery’s life free of charge. There’s nothing worse than being stranded in a cold, unfamiliar parking lot with a dead car battery. If your battery’s life is low, you can replace it before it dies and save yourself the stress and panic of hearing nothing when you try to start your car.

Keep in touch

The buddy system works in a wide variety of settings. Let your friends or family know before you leave, how long you expect

your trip to take and when you have arrived. This will not only remove some anxiety for your loved ones but also puts someone on the lookout for you – if you don’t make that follow-up call to let your buddy know you’ve arrived, he’ll know you may be stranded. Cellphones are wonderful devices, so be sure to keep yours charged before you travel anywhere, in case you need to call for help.

Brake smart

The combination of snow, salt and oil that accumulates on roads during winter can make driving even trickier. Because of the risk of hydroplaning, decrease your average travel speed and take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Doing this instead of using your brakes will keep you from sliding out of control on slick roads.

Include a survival kit

Sometimes even all the preparation in the world can’t keep you from an accident. Having a proper emergency survival kit handy will keep you alive if you are stranded during a snow storm. In addition to the usual necessities, you should keep a foldable thermal blanket within easy reach of the driver’s seat. Other items to consider include LED emergency beacons, a bag of sand for added traction and a shovel to dig yourself out of the snow if you get stuck.

The key to safely driving during winter is to be calm and prepared. Do not stress over possible issues as that may make you more likely to overcorrect and have an accident. Following these five easy car maintenance tips for winter will keep you safe on the roads no matter what the cold brings.