While the winter months represent a time of celebration and vacations, severe weather can be hazardous and scary for motor vehicle travel. Snow occurs in almost every winter in Oklahoma City, with the normal seasonal snowfall being nearly eight inches.
Snow, slushy or icy roads are involved in nearly one in four weather-related car accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. These conditions make it more difficult for motorists to see, decelerate, and stop--all factors which can increase the chances of a crash.
If you need to travel during the winter season, whether it is a short distance or a long road trip, preparing your vehicle in advance, knowing the forecast, and driving based on road conditions are three important ways to make you a safer driver. The following is an overview of some winter driving safety tips to help you prepare for the elements on the road.
Preparing Your Car
Planning and preventative maintenance are important throughout the year, but especially when the winter season strikes. Nobody wants to experience their car breaking down in the cold or snowy winter weather.
Start the season in the right way by ensuring your vehicle is in sufficient condition. Schedule a tune-up and other routine maintenance with your mechanic. Check your vehicle thoroughly for leaks and parts such as tires, brakes, lights, wipers, etc. which require repairs or replacements.
In addition, you can check for recalls. Simply enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the recall section of the NHTSA website to learn if your vehicle has been recalled in the last 15 years and whether it has been repaired or not. If your vehicle is under a recall, you can get it fixed at your nearest dealer free of charge.
Furthermore, carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving-related tasks and emergencies. Always have a snow shovel, an ice scraper, jumper cables, a flashlight, flares, blankets, a cell phone charger, and even abrasive material such as sand, in case your car gets stuck in the snow.
Plan Ahead of Time
Winter is one of the most popular seasons for travel. If you plan on taking a road trip this winter, keep yourself and your passengers safe by planning ahead before you venture out into inclement weather. Check the weather, road conditions and traffic.
Familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you embark on your journey. Despite using a GPS system, let others know your routine and anticipated arrival time.
In addition to the items mentioned in the previous section above, pack food, water, and any necessary medication.
How to Drive During Winter
The following are common winter driving tips aimed at driver safety:
- Allow enough time to reach your destination by getting an early start.
- Keep your gas tank full at all times since it may be necessary to turn back during a bad storm or change routes.
- Keep your windshield and windows clear of snow, ice, and fog.
- Drive slower than normal since snow and ice make stopping distances much longer.
- Be more observant since visibility is typically limited in winter by weather conditions.