Winter is Coming!
It’s that time of year. There’s a chill in the air, it’s getting dark earlier, and stores are advertising holiday sales. This can only mean one thing: winter (and potentially bad weather) is coming. When the temperatures plummet to five degrees, even the most experienced of drivers can have a hard time managing the icy roads. However, by implementing preventive safety measures for driving in icy conditions, you can sail through the winter season without any major problems. Here are ten winter driving tips that can help you stay safe this winter.
1. Inspect Your Vehicle
Getting your van prepared for winter is essential to prevent any major problems. Check the tire pressure, engine oil and antifreeze levels before you hit the road. You can also have a mechanic inspect your vehicle to make sure it’s ready to withstand the harsh season of wear and tear.
2. Slow Down
Most accidents occur because drivers don’t adjust their speed according to the road conditions. While driving on a snow-covered road, you may need to compensate for the poor traction by reducing your speed. Moreover, going slow will also give you more time to react if anything goes wrong.
3. Keep a Safe Driving Distance
Do you know that the stopping distance on a wet road is twice the normal stopping distance? And on icy roads, it’s almost 10 times the normal distance!! So, leave plenty of room between your van and the vehicle in front of you so that you have enough space to move out of harm’s way in case of unpredictable situations or terrible drivers.
4. Stay Smooth
In cold weather, try hard to refrain from doing anything sudden – sudden braking, sudden acceleration, sudden turning. If the situation demands you to slow down suddenly on a slick road, pump your brakes lightly. The key is to maintain a consistent speed and avoid doing anything that reduces traction on the slippery roads. Which brings us to another point… Kitty litter! Keep a bag in your van. Warm tires can turn that snow you parked on into a patch of ice in a short time. Throwing kitty litter under your tires is a good way to get that little bit of extra traction needed to get you going.
5. Pay Attention to the Tire Spray
This is one of the most important winter driving tips. A good way to assess the road condition is to observe the water coming off the tires of vehicles around you. If there’s a lot of water being sprayed, the road is definitely wet. If the tire spray is relatively less, it means that the roadway has started to freeze and you need to be alert.
6. Let There Be Light
The visibility is quite poor in inclement weather conditions. Don’t forget to clear lights covered in snow and ice, and turn on the headlights of your van. This will allow the other drivers to see you and maintain a safe distance from the van.
7. Take Evasive Action
Sometimes, it’s better to take evasive action than hard braking, especially on a snow-covered road. If your speed is around 25-30mph, consider decelerating your van slightly and maneuvering around the obstacles to avoid a collision.
8. Carefully Enter and Exist
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s common for drivers to fall and injure themselves by underestimating just how slippery their vehicle’s steps are.Take your time and wear boots with a good grip to reduce your chances of slipping. Also, if visibility is low, wear your high visibility vest.
9. Be Prepared
In the unfortunate event that you end up stuck, spun out, wrecked or just sitting in a back up, be sure you have the necessities with you. Keep extra warm clothing, blankets, canned food and water. Don’t forget that kitty litter and make sure you have at least half a tank of gas always!
10. There is No Load Worth Your Life
If the weather is so severe that you need to get off the road, do it. However, there is a good time and a bad time to stop driving. Do not stop on the hard shoulder as this will dramatically increase your chances of being hit. If possible, drive carefully to a gas station or any 24-hour establishment and wait until visibility increases. Also, try not to park on an incline as you may get stuck.