As the fall foliage passes into snow and ice, and hazardous road conditions appear in Monroe County, we need to stop and think about our driving habits. We all know that we will encounter road and weather conditions that require prudence, patience and preparation.
The American Automobile Association urges drivers to prepare themselves and their automobiles for foul weather. Its winter driving brochure, “How to Go on Ice & Snow,” provides helpful hints on vehicle maintenance and operation. It also provides tips for dealing with cold-weather motoring.
Ready, set, go!
Prepare your vehicle for winter. You or your mechanic should check the heating and cooling system, brakes, exhaust, and electrical operations. Most importantly, be sure to check the condition of your windshield wiper and wiper fluid.
Besides preparing your vehicle, we also recommend the storing of a winter driving kit in the trunk of your vehicle. The kit should contain the tools and accessories you’ll need should a mishap occur. Your winter driving kit should include:
- a small snow shovel
- flares or an illuminated triangle
- a flashlight
- jumper cables
- an ice scraper
- a blanket for warmth
If you can afford it, the best safety device invented since the dead-bolt lock is a cellular telephone.
Clear Your Car of Snow
Here’s a question: How many times have you driven down the road and observed another vehicle that has not been cleared of snow? It’s frightening to see cars where the windows and lights are covered with snow and ice.
OK, How About Your Car?
If you can't see, how can you drive safely? Before you drive your vehicle, clean it off. All windows and lights should be free of any snow or ice. Wait till your heater has cleared the inside of your windows. Only then can you see and drive safely.
Drive According to Conditions
The worse the roads are, the slower you should go. And stay in your lane. Rapid lane changes could cause a crash. Don't drive in December in the same manner in which you operate your vehicle in July. The highways may appear clear, but could have ice layers that affect stopping and steering.
We strongly suggest that you leave several car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you, especially during the winter. We call it “living room.” If the car in front of you spins out, you need room to avoid a collision.
Look further down the road to see what's going on. This will allow you the opportunity to anticipate changes and adjust your course gradually. If you make a quick move, you could lose control and crash.
What’s Your Condition?
For winter driving, you know you need to prepare your vehicle, get a current weather and road condition report, and plan your journey. But don’t forget to prepare yourself. To operate your vehicle safely, you must be alert, exercise patience, and be drug- and alcohol-free. Remember that many over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness. When you are not in condition to drive, you endanger yourself and others.