Winter road conditions create the most dangerous and challenging situations for drivers for months every year. From severe snow storms to icy roads to overconfident drivers, there are lots of things that can go wrong when it comes to getting from place to place in the winter. At Tire World USA, your preferred online tire retailer, we’re dedicated to providing the best priced tires around so you and your family can get from point A to point B safely no matter what season it is. If you need a new set of tires for your passenger car, truck, or SUV this winter, check out TyresGator.com for an excellent selection of the best priced tires online.
We’ve put together a special set of blogs for this winter that we’re calling the Winter Safety Series — a set of tips, tricks, and guides to help you get to your destination safely when driving around town, on the highway, or cross country. We’ve already covered the importance of having a winter emergency car bag and discussed whether it makes for sense for you to buy one or build it yourself. Today, we’ll look at important tips for staying safe when you’re undertaking a long trip or one where you expect to run into less than safe winter conditions. In general, these are great recommendations for any bad weather driving, but they become especially important for distance driving during the winter months.
Prepare Yourself and Your Vehicle
Making sure that you are comfortable with your vehicle and that it is well prepared for your trip is the first step to having a safe and successful trip.
Know Your Vehicle
Having experience driving the car, truck, or SUV that you plan to take out into poor conditions is crucial. The knowledge of how well your vehicle stops, how wide its turning radius is and what kind of gas mileage it gets can all be important pieces of staying safe and staying on the road. If you are in a newer vehicle, a rental, or using someone else car, we strongly recommend spending some time in a large, empty parking lot getting familiar with how it handles. Additionally, ask yourself a few important questions:
- Is this car front or rear wheel drive?
- Does it have AWD or Four Wheel Drive? Also, know the difference.
- If a 4×4, does it have locking hubs?
- Does your vehicle have anti-lock brakes
Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time can help you understand how to operate your car more safely and aid in avoiding surprises at inconvenient, or even dangerous, times.
Check Your Tires
Having properly inflated tires with healthy tread is the single most important factor in how your vehicle handles in rain, snow, ice, and sleet. Do not underestimate the importance of your tires. If your tires are balding, make sure to replace them before winter weather hits — it will keep you and everyone else on the road safer. The average new tire has about 10/32” of tread on it. Most safety experts recommend driving with absolutely no less than 4/32” of tread in winter conditions. The more tread you have, the better your tires’ performance will be. Tire World USA offers the best priced tires for your car, truck, or SUV and would love to help you stay safe this winter. Shop our extensive collection of passenger car tires and all-terrain tires for trucks and SUVs today.
Check Your Battery
The cold weather can take a toll on your battery, even if it’s relatively new. Make sure that you test your battery and know that it is working at an optimal or near optimal level before heading out into the ice and snow this winter. A battery booster is a good idea to keep in the car if you live in places that typically see drastically cold temperatures in the winter months.
Fill Up The Gas Tank
When you’re heading out into the great white open during winter, make sure that you have a full gas tank. On longer trips, stop more often to refill and don’t let yourself get much below a half of a tank. Getting stranded because you ran out of gas not only makes you feel silly, but it is also dangerous in the winter — especially in more rural areas. Sometimes, winter fuel deliveries in rural communities become less frequent because of road closures and increased demand from urban areas. Don’t be caught unprepared.
Check Your Oil
Make sure you have the right kind of oil in your engine and that you have enough of it. Heavier oils will thicken during colder months and can impact the performance of your vehicle. Check your owner’s manual or talk with your mechanic to see if you need to reconsider your oil choice for winter.
Check Your Wiper Fluid
If you keep water in your wiper fluid tank during the summer months, then you need to make sure that you have an antifreeze fluid replace it for the winter months. Make sure to flush all the water out of the lines so that they don’t freeze. This strategy can prevent your washer fluid from helping and can cause damage that will need to be repaired. Besides, there is nothing more dangerous than spraying your windshield with water during a cold weather trip and having it immediately turn into a sheet of view-blocking ice on your windshield.
Plan For Bad Weather
Below you can find tips for planning your winter trip that can save you from getting stranded and keep you safe along the way.
Allow For Extra Travel Time
Traffic moves more slowly in bad weather, accidents are more common and road closures can cause further delays. Plan on trips taking you anywhere from 25 to 50 percent longer when ice and snow are going to be present. By planning for extra time, you won’t feel rushed and can better resist the urge to drive faster than is safe.
Charge Your Cellphone
In the case that something does go wrong — like a dead battery, sliding off the road or an accident — you’ll want to know that you have a way to reach emergency personnel and your family. Make sure that your cell phone is fully charged before leaving the house and whenever possible, taking a car adaptor for your phone so you can re-charge it along the way if necessary.
Monitor The Weather
Although winter storms can be unpredictable, it’s not very hard to keep on top of developments. Local broadcasting, both television and radio, can keep you up to date on the most pressing weather developments so you know what to expect. Additionally, there are plenty of websites and apps for your phone that can alert you to changing conditions throughout your trip. It also doesn’t hurt to have an emergency weather radio and some spare batteries in your car just in case.
Pick Your Route Ahead of Time
In a world where we tend to rely on GPS to get us where we are going without any advance planning, this step takes some discipline. Look at a map — digital or physical — ahead of time and know your route. Pick the most well-traveled roads you can and know how to get there without your GPS. For longer trips, we also recommend leaving your route plan with a friend or family member in case you end up stranded.
In winter driving conditions, it’s everyone’s responsibility to help prevent accidents. Here are three key tips that will help you do your part to keep yourself and those around you safe.
Rain, ice, and snow all make driving more dangerous than it usually is. Don’t be that person that thinks they are the only driver on the road qualified to keep speeding. As a rule of thumb, you should reduce your driving speed by one-third to one-half depending on the severity of the road conditions. People may not love that you’re driving 45 on the highway, but you will feel great when you make it to your destination safely.
Give Extra Distance
Even when you are driving slower, icy roads require significantly more stopping time. Increase your following distance from the car in front of you by at least double of what you would usually give them (i.e. instead of three to four seconds of following time, make it eight to 10). More importantly, when other drivers move into your lane and take that space up, allow yourself to regain that buffer zone.
Don’t Use Cruise Control
When road conditions are poor and slippery, you want to have as much control of your vehicle as possible. Keep your foot on the pedal or brake and never use your cruise control.
Let Tire World USA Help
It’s important to us that whether you are traveling to work, to the grocery store, or across the country for the holidays, that you stay safe. If you need new tires for your passenger car, truck, or SUV this winter to accomplish that, let Tire World USA help by providing the best priced tires online for your winter safety needs.