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Driving during the winters is a tricky affair and requires immense presence of mind to shield ourselves and our loved ones from any mishaps that may occur. You might have come across countless number of videos on the internet that involves some sort of accident on a snow laden road. The fault need not necessarily be from our side – The snow laden road acquaints us with many diverse challenges that make driving very risky. While roads are usually well maintained using liquid de-icers from providers such as Innovative Surface Solutions, it is always best to drive safely and assume the worst.
Here are some of the things you should always keep in mind before hitting the road during winters:
Understanding your vehicle would be the first and the most important thing to start with. Your vehicle probably won’t be as heavy duty as depicted in the advertisements that made you buy it. Know the limits of your vehicle – The things it can or can’t do. You wouldn’t want to hang around for rescue just because your unrealistic expectations from your vehicle landed you into trouble.
The roads are no longer as you’ve known them during the summers. Things take time on snow laden roads. You should drive a bit slower when the weather is particularly bad and always give yourself plenty of time to brake to avoid skids and maintain traction. The stopping and turning distances increase greatly during winters and applying instant brakes or steering sharp will only guarantee trouble. If the car skids at some point, don’t panic and especially don't force your car to brake as it will only lock your car in the skid. If you find yourself skidding, remain calm and try get back to course. If you're car is still skidding after 2-3 seconds with no hope of getting back to course, apply your brakes lightly!
The most common mistake people commit is using worn out tires or tires that totally mismatch each other. Using tires that have different tread patterns and internal constructions can very easily compromise the stability of the vehicle. Always make sure you have a complete set of tires that are especially designed to deal with the harsh winter conditions. Winter tires are very efficient when it comes to minimizing the stopping distance of the vehicle. Winter tires also provide the appropriate traction compared to regular tires. Also make sure that the tires are properly inflated as tires tend to lose pressure as the temperature lowers down further. Use a fresh set of tires to ensure safety each time any of the tires gets worn out. It is also important to know that all-weather tires and winter tires are not the same thing! All-weather tires begin to lose effectiveness when temperature drops below 7 C , so depending on harsh your winters are, always be sure to use winter tires. To learn more about the differences between all-weather and winter tires, I recommend this article.
Never head out on the roads during the winters without a safety kit. Make sure you have a bag having medical supplies, a shovel and some handy accessories like a scraper for your windshield and some extra warm clothing in case you need it. You should always be prepared for worst case scenarios that may befall your way.
Always make sure you have at least half a tank of fuel before you step in the car. You wouldn’t want to be stuck somewhere in the cold just because you ran out of fuel. Also, keeping the engine on can provide the much needed heat once you get stuck in the traffic on a bone chilling day. Also make sure you bring along enough windshield washer fluid to keep your windshield snow free.
Avoid going out on a bad day unless it’s very urgent. Watch the weather forecast before you go out and make sure you have enough supplies to sustain you for a while. In case you get stuck somewhere, make sure you have a cell phone that you can use to make an emergency call. Don’t go too far from your car because it will be used to trace your location.