We don’t get a ton of winter weather here in North Carolina, but we do get some snow and ice from time to time. Because we don’t get wintry weather regularly, it’s even more important to make sure you are prepared if you have to drive in it. Before the arrival of winter weather this season, take a few minutes to review these tips with your family to keep everyone safe on the roads!
Prepare ahead of time. If you’re going out in the bad weather, it’s only natural to prepare. We do it everyday, right? We check the weather and dress accordingly. If it’s going to be cold, we wear more layers; if it’s hot, we’re probably not bringing our coat; and if it’s raining, we’re grabbing an umbrella. So it makes sense to prepare accordingly for driving in bad or different weather, too.
Here are a few things you should do to prepare for driving in winter weather:
• Check your brakes. Make sure your brakes are working well and you have an appropriate amount of brake fluid. Braking quickly in winter weather can be difficult and is even more difficult if your brakes aren’t working properly.
• Check your antifreeze. Inspect the cooling system to make sure you have enough of, and the right mixture of, antifreeze and water.
• Check the battery. The last thing you need is to be stranded in the cold because your car won’t start. Make sure your battery is working along with the alternator, starters, and any electrical systems that could cause you to be stranded unexpectedly.
• Check your tires. Look to make sure there is enough tread left, that there are no signs of uneven wear or damage, and that you have enough air in your tires. You should do this year round, of course, but particularly if you are going out in winter weather.
• Pack an emergency kit. Getting stranded with a broken down car is bad enough, but if temperatures are freezing, it can be even worse. Be sure to pack an extra blanket and any other items needed to keep you warm and your feet dry. It’s also important to be sure you have items like emergency flares, flashlights, and jumper cables. If your car is broken down, it may be difficult for other drivers to see you and can increase the chances of being hit by a passing car. Also, consider adding items like food, extra medication, and a portable cell phone charger.
Practice safe driving. In addition to preparing ahead of time for winter weather, you should also practice safe driving. Winter weather can create extra hazards, so it’s even more important to practice safe driving and do everything you can to mitigate driving hazards.
Always do the following:
• Always wear a seatbelt. Additionally, always ensure your children are in proper child safety seats and are secured appropriately.
• Never drink and drive. Just don’t do it – even one drink can increase your chances of getting in an accident; add winter weather into the mix, and it really increases those chances. Don’t risk injuring – or killing – yourself or someone else.
• Reduce your speed and following distance. Stopping on ice is more difficult and requires extra time and distance than what you may be used to. Slow down and make sure you leave extra room between you and the car in front of you.
Stay safe if you are stalled or stranded. Even if you’ve taken all of the proper precautions, it’s possible to find yourself stalled or stranded. If this happens, call for help and, while you are waiting, make sure you stay safe and do the following:
• Don’t over exert yourself. If you are stuck in snow or ice, it’s important to watch the amount of energy you put into getting out. Because it’s cold outside, you could be overworking your body without realizing it and putting yourself at risk of things like heart attacks.
• Put out markers. Make sure you can be seen by other drivers – use bright markers, your car lights, and/or try to shine a light to be seen by others. This will decrease the risk of being hit by a passing car and will increase the chances that rescuers can see you to be able to find and reach you.
• Watch for frostbite and hypothermia. If you are unable to run your car to stay warm, do minor exercises to keep the blood flowing, and avoid staying in the same position for too long. Try to avoid sleeping as well because it can make you more vulnerable for cold-related health problems. If you are able to run your car, ensure your exhaust pipe is clear and remains clear.
We want everyone to stay safe this winter. If you are involved in a car crash, give us a call. We’ll help you understand your options and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.