Are You (and Your Car) Prepared for Winter Driving?

Kentucky winters can be long and quite cold. And since we all must move around in snowy and icy weather, we need to be ready for it. Here are some tips on how to better “weather” our winter months.

Preparing for Winter

Before the snow flies, you should have already “winterized” your car. Get ready for the cold by doing these simple tasks.

  • Check your engine coolant and antifreeze levels
  • Check your tire pressure and tread depth. Here’s a simple tread test: Put a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head pointing down.  If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, you need to replace the tires.
  • Change to “winter” windshield wiper fluid. It has a higher alcohol content and is less likely to freeze in your lines.
  • Switch to a winter-grade oil at your next change (a “5-W” type, unless you use synthetic oil; then check with your mechanic).

Put an “Emergency Box” in your car. Having a box full of winter supplies in your trunk can make all the difference when something goes wrong while traveling on a cold winter day in rural Kentucky. Here’s a quick list of items that should be in that box:

  • Flashlight
  • Road flares
  • First-aid kit
  • Several blankets
  • A change of warm clothes for the driver
  • Extra pairs of gloves
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Cellphone charger (and check on it monthly)
  • Bag of sand (for traction)
  • Extra ice scraper
  • Some high-energy snacks (like nuts, energy bars, or jerky).

Tips for Driving in Snow

Driving in snow requires anticipation of other drivers’ behavior. Watch oncoming traffic as much as your lane because you may have to avoid them if they go into a skid. And don’t assume all drivers will be able to stop at intersections. Also, try to leave a 10-second gap between you and the car ahead of you to increase stopping distance and allow time to respond to traffic problems in front of you. Other general “do’s” and “don’ts” include:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  • Drive slowly.
  • The normal dry-pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds.
  • Know your brakes.
  • Don’t stop unless you can’t avoid it, and then gradually downshift as you lightly tap your brakes.
  • Don’t “power up” when you reach a hill; gradually increase speed as you approach it so your momentum carries you up and over.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. Little, if any, good can come from that.

Tips for Driving on Ice

  • Unlike snow, ice is often invisible. You have to guess where it might be.
  • Look for reflections in the road surface ahead; what looks like water may be ice.
  • Are roadside puddles liquid or frozen?
  • If the swishing sound of your tires on a snowy-wet road goes quiet, you may be on ice.
  • One of the first signs of slippery road conditions is when steering becomes “lighter” in a turn. Often you can feel the action of your Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) as a slight vibration of the brake pedal. Learn to recognize this sensation as an early warning of slippery ice.
  • Bright sun and warm winds quickly thaw ice but leave patches in shady and sheltered areas, so be observant where a wall or tree shading a road casts a shadow causing black ice.
  • Contrary to what most believe, 4×4 vehicles are no better than a conventional car on ice.

If you would like to speak to someone at the Johnson Law Firm at anytime, please call us at 606-433-0682 or fill out our online contact form.

Disclaimer: This advice is offered as a public service, The Billy Johnson Law Firm accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions

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