20 Best Winter Driving Tips!
20 Best Winter Driving Tips!
Winter is a magical time of year to travel, but it can also be challenging. From packing the right clothes to navigating snowy roads, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to winter driving. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best winter travel tips to help make your trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. A list of things to be mindful of as you get in your car and head out into the cold.
1. Weather Forecast:
Check the weather forecast before you leave. This will help you plan for any potential weather-related issues and adjust your route if necessary. Get on the local road conditions maps to check for road closures due to heavy snow. Look for necessary detours to get you where you need to go. Every state has a 511- for example, you can look up “Colorado 511,” and it will show you the road conditions. If you are commonly looking the 511 up, most states also have a 511 app or trip planner that you can download onto your phone.
2. Vehicle Conditions :
Make sure your vehicle is in good condition before hitting the road. This includes checking your brakes, tires, headlights, and windshield wipers. Ensure your windshield fluid is the correct type to combat freezing temperatures. Are your tires good for traveling on snowy and icy roads? Not all tires are made the same! Make sure you have good traction or consider replacing the tires with all-season tires if you are in an area where winter weather conditions are expected.
After your road trip, you will be so excited to get home. Before you just run inside and shower, you should take a day to ensure your car is back to peak condition. Get an oil change, clean the car, and fill the tank. Your future self will thank you for getting things back to normal, so your Monday morning self doesn’t have to drive to work in a messy car with an empty tank.
3. Emergency Kit:
Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. This should include blankets, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and warm clothes. A good trade for a blanket is a thermal sleeping bag, one conditioned to be below zero temperatures. Be prepared with snow boots, a good coat, gloves, and something to cover your ears- a face covering is also a good idea to keep your cheeks and nose warm. Even if you’re driving across town, being caught in the weather without proper clothing can make any situation terrible. Stop at your local sporting store and pick up some freeze-dried food or MREs. This is an excellent option for a meal in an emergency.
The best way to plan for an emergency is to be prepared for anything. Check out Don’t Die In The Woods thermal blanket. A blanket that protects from wind and can save you from hypothermia. Something to have in the car, an emergency 72-hour kit, or a hiking backpack. Never know when you’ll need one.
4. Slow Down:
Slow down and increase the space between you and others! Winter roads can be slippery, and it take longer to stop on them. We all can get mindless and closer to others than we need to be, but this can turn into one bad accident waiting to happen in winter. Getting caught on ice due to emergency braking will make you slide into another car. Even going slow, be mindful of traffic and stop lights.
Use your headlights, even during the day. This will help you see the road better and make it easier for other drivers to see you. When the snow is blowing, or the fog hits, visibility is expected to decrease in the winter. Keep those running lights on to ensure others don’t come up to you without warning. If you cannot see other cars’ headlights, then weather conditions might not be safe for driving. We all want to get places quickly, but safety should come first.
6. No Cruise Control:
Avoid using cruise control on snowy or icy roads. Cruise control speeds up and slows down to keep you at your desired speed. This can cause your vehicle to lose friction and get caught on black ice. If your car starts to slide, it can be difficult to regain control. It is safer to control your own speed and make sure not to speed up on ice or snow!
7. Be Cautious:
Be extra cautious when approaching intersections, bridges, and overpasses. These areas tend to freeze first and can be incredibly slippery. Accidents have been caused by people being on seemingly dry roads till they get under an overpass and suddenly are hit with ice. This has caused build-ups and many fatalities. If it’s below freezing with seemingly good weather, still be mindful!
8. Wear Seatbelt:
Always wear your seatbelt. If you do get into an accident, it can be the difference between life and death. That’s on any road condition, but in the winter especially, traffic accidents grow higher. Plus, its the law, so buckle up!
9.Stay in Vehicle
If you get stuck in a snowbank, stay with your vehicle. It’s much easier to be found if you visit put. Staying in your car will keep you warm. If your car shuts off, you’ll be fine because you packed your emergency kit with a warm blanket.
10. Don't Get Stranded:
Don’t let yourself get stranded. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times, and make sure your cell phone is charged. When traveling in the mountains, where the usual winter weather can be found, gas stations aren’t always plentiful like in cities. And phones can die a lot quicker when it is cold out. If you find yourself without warmth and unable to charge your phone, the last thing you want is a quickly dying phone! You should check your GPS route for gas stations in advance so you know where you can fill up.
Know how to handle a skid. If your vehicle begins to slide, start performing counter steering. Countersteering, in the simplest terms, is “steering left to turn right” to steer in the opposite direction at the beginning of a turn to adjust the rider’s center of gravity.
Check out the Weather Channel’s quick video to watch a small tutorial on skidding.
12. Parking Brake:
Avoid using your parking brake in cold weather. It can freeze and become ineffective. Something that is not usually thought about in warmer places. This is why ensuring your brakes are in good condition before your trip is so important.
13. Low Gear:
Another thing not usually thought about in warmer places- is using the lowest gear possible when driving on snowy or icy roads. This can help you maintain better control of your vehicle. This means driving slowly on challenging roads. Pull over and stop going if you do not feel confident in your driving skills. Do not put your life and others in danger because you are in a hurry. You should check the 511 for the state before you hit the road.
14. Tire Pressure:
Keep a close eye on your tire pressure. Cold weather can cause your tires to lose tension, affecting your vehicle’s handling. Pro tip! If you’re new to colder places, don’t panic when you start your car; the tire sensor says you have low tires. Tires naturally do lose tire pressure sitting overnight in much colder places. Get a few miles down the road to heat the tires up. They should naturally go back to where they need to be.
Don’t warm up your car in an enclosed area. This can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up. It is also recommended not to warm up your vehicle in the cold! It can bring damage to your engine and fuel mileage. Well, this is recommended. We all find it easier to get into a car that is already warm and ready to go. Starting up your car and getting a few miles down the road will bring you the warmth you’re looking for without damaging your engine.
Keep a set of chains or cables in your vehicle. These can be useful if you get stuck in deep snow and need additional traction. Chains are most important in rear-wheel drive vehicles. You’ll find the front wheel and all-wheel much easier to operate in the snow.
17.Cell Phone Use:
Don’t use your cell phone while driving, even if it’s hands-free. It can be a significant distraction. Though we are warned against using our phones while driving, reaction time drops a lot in the winter. There is no quick last-moment reaction. That last second you have to react is the first second you should be responding to sudden changes in traffic or road conditions.
18. Let Someone Know:
Always let someone know your travel plans before you leave. This can help in case of an emergency. From point A to point B, many things can happen in changing weather and road conditions. Throughout your trip, you should be sending regular updates on your location. If you go out of signal and find yourself stuck in a snowy valley, it will be better knowing someone is waiting on your check-up and has your location.
You can even share your ETA on google maps and Apple maps with someone, and they can see where you are. This is great for safety if you are traveling alone. This way, someone else will know where you are if you get into trouble.
19. Pay Attention:
Be mindful of other drivers. The most important thing is to ensure you’re doing all you can to keep yourself and others safe. If you’re going too slow, pull over and let faster drivers around you. If you’re going fast, be mindful not to ride up on someone and pass them when given a safe opportunity. Also, remember not to speed around someone! This can cause you to get trapped on ice and have you speeding off the road.
20. Remember BE AWARE:
Always be aware of your surroundings, take it slow, and be prepared for unexpected weather or road conditions. These tips will help you stay safe on the road and make your winter road trip a success. This is the final tip because it covers all of them well. Stay alert! Make sure you’re being extra cautious and not treating the roads like they’re warm and dry. It is a good idea to take more rest breaks from driving in the winter. This will give you and the car a chance to rest before returning to the road. If you are feeling sleepy or tired, stop driving.
Tips on staying awake can come from audiobooks, switching drivers if able, music, and YouTube videos. Audible is a great way to get audiobooks on your phone and downloaded before taking off.
Comedy is also a great way to stay awake while driving and remove the enervating drive. Download some of your favorite comedy specials or get on YouTube and try some Dry Bar Comedy, a personal favorite.
In conclusion, winter travel can be a wonderful and memorable experience but requires extra alertness and preparation. By following the 20 best winter travel tips we’ve outlined, you’ll be able to navigate snowy roads, stay warm and comfortable, and stay safe throughout your journey. Whether you’re headed to a ski resort or exploring a new city, these tips will help you have a safe and enjoyable trip. So pack your bags and hit the road.
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