Winter Driving Refresher
Winter is approaching and now is an opportune time for some refresher training concerning the hazards of driving in Winter.Time spent reviewing winter defensive driving tips will possibly help from becoming involved in a collision. All drivers can benefit from being reminded of the hazards and exposures they will face this Winter.
It is amazing the number of collisions that occur during the season’s first snowfall each year. It’s as if every driver on the road forgets everything they have learned, and has to relearn that ice and snow are slippery – meaning you must slow down and increase your space cushion. To be proactive – review the hazards so when the first inclement and/or snowy weather arrives, you will already be thinking about slowing down and increasing your space cushion (by at least 1-2 seconds). This is also a good time to review antilock brakes (ABS) operation and how to use them effectively (maintain firm pressure, do not pump the brakes, and steer around hazards – disregard the pulsing felt in the brake pedal).
Remember that bridges freeze up before the roads do, because of the cold air underneath bridges. Consider slowing down before the curve, not in the curve where an engine retardation or brake system may initiate a skid. Afternoon shadows may cause wet spots on roads to glaze over while sunny spots may create dry surfaces.
Winter also brings with it shorter days and limited visibility. Days seem to be grayer. Headlights need to be on more often and need to be cleaned more frequently, so you can see what’s on the road as well as other drivers can see you. Windshields need to be cleaned inside to remove film buildup that creates glare at night. Brake lights and other identification lights need to be kept clean to prevent dirt and salt buildup. Reflective tape on trucks and trailers need to be washed periodically so it can do its job of making the vehicles more visible.
Naturally, antifreeze levels in the cooling system and the windshield washer fluid need to be checked; so does the air pressure in the tires, since the ambient air will decrease the air pressure inside the vehicle’s tires, making them run soft and less fuel efficient. The driver should check the tire tread depths on their vehicles and make a decision if new tires are warranted. Make sure you check your vehicle’s chains before you need them, in order to repair broken links or cables and to make sure they properly fit the tires on the vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these Safety TIPS for driving in Winter Conditions:
- Remember to always wear your seat belt.
- Do not text or engage in any other activities that may distract you while driving.
- Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface.
- Increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
- Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and how to use them properly. In general, if you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure. If you don’t have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
- If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. This steering maneuver may require additional counter-steering before you can regain full control of the vehicle. Continue to stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until you are able to regain control of your vehicle. This Winter season, remember to slow down and follow these simple driving rules to help minimize your involvement in potential Winter related crash situations.
This Winter season, remember to slow down and follow these simple driving rules to help minimize your involvement in potential Winter related crash situations.
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