The most important thing to do for winter driving safety is to stock your car with a winter safety kit at the beginning of the winter. These items will be useful if you end up stranded during inclement weather.
Winter Safety Kit
- Snow shovel and ice scraper
- Food – nuts, dried fruit, power bars
- Medication – general medication like aspirin, any prescription medications
- First aid kit
- Fully charged cell phone and car charger
- Extra winter clothes – coats, mittens, hats, scarves
- Jumper cables
- Kitty litter – in case vehicle gets stuck in the snow
- Flashlight and plenty of batteries
- Well maintained spare tire and tire replacement tools
- Flares or reflective triangles
- Waterproof matches and candles
- Basic tool kit
At the beginning of winter, also perform the following maintenance checks.
- Tires – Insert a penny into the tread of each tire, with Lincoln’s head pointed into the tire. If the top of Lincoln’s head reaches the raised portion, you’re set. If not, get new tires before icy weather begins.
- Windshield Wipers – Install new windshield wipers. Heavy duty wipers are best for winter weather in the Midwest. Fill windshield washer fluid tanks.
- Lights – Check that all lights are working, including the emergency flashers. Replace immediately when necessary.
- Battery – Have a professional check your battery for amperage, voltage, and reserve capacity before the winter, and all battery connections. Replace if necessary.
- Gas Tank – Always keep your gas tank full during the winter, and fill it before heading out on a winter journey.
Driving in the Winter
- Ensure driver and all passengers are safely and properly buckled in.
- Drive as slowly as you feel is safe for your vehicle.
- Increase the distance you normally maintain between your car and the one in front of you.
- Be aware of ice. Even the best tires are sometimes ineffectual at stopping properly on icy roads. Under and on bridges and entry ramps are especially icy areas.
- Driving behind a snow plow gives you safer road conditions, but don’t follow too closely.
- As with any driving, avoid alcohol or drugs before driving in the winter.
Driving safely during the winter is something that we Midwesterners take pride in. We’ve all felt superior to the driver of the car with the Florida plate stuck in the ditch. To best maintain that pride, drive safely, so you’re not the one stranded. If you do become stranded or your car breaks down, contact your Baldwin Woodville agent, and see our post on safety when stranded during the winter.