On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow around 7:30 am and did not see his shadow, predicting an early spring for us all. We don’t think that Mother nature got the message. Take control of the winter roads with these Winter driving tips from the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Regardless of the season, you should inspect your tires on a monthly basis and before long road trips.
- Check your tire pressure – ensuring that your tires are inflated to your vehicle’s suggested PSI. You can find this information either in your owner’s manual or on the label inside your driver’s door.
- All-season tires are not winter tires. All-season tires begin to lose their grip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and are not as effective in heavy snow and ice.
- Tires marked with a snowflake are designed for snowy conditions and offer excellent snow traction performance. Winter tires provide better traction, handling and braking. They can shorten braking distances by as much as 25%.
- Look closely at your tread and replace tires with uneven wear or insufficient tread.
No one expects to be stranded on the side of the road. Be prepared for winter driving by keeping a survival kit in your vehicle. Below are some suggestions of items you should keep in your trunk.
- Gloves, blankets and extra cloths
- Cell phone and charger
- Know what to do in an emergency
- Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and markers
- Extra food, water and first aid kit
- Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper
- Abrasive material, such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow
Check Your Vehicle
Winter weather is hard on your vehicle and its engine. Here are some tips to help you make sure your vehicle is up to the challenge.
- Service your vehicle with a Winter tune-up or other routine maintenance
- Keep an extra jug of high-quality “no-freeze” windshield-washer fluid
- Keep your gas tank at least half-full to prevent your gas line from freezing.
- Check your battery
- Check your cooling system
- Check your windshield wipers and defrosters
Cleaning Your Vehicle
Did you know that it is illegal in Maryland to drive with snow on the roof of your car? Safe winter driving starts before you drive off from your driveway.
- Clear snow and ice from all windows, headlights, mirrors, hood and the roof. After starting your vehicle, wait for the window to defrost completely to allow clear visibility all around.
- Snow or ice left on your vehicle will blow up onto your windshield while driving and will even blow off your vehicle onto the cars behind you potentially damaging their vehicle or blocking their view.
Practice Safe Winter Driving Habits
Since every vehicle handles differently during different road conditions, it’s important to take the time to get to know your vehicle under winter weather driving conditions,
- Practice cold weather driving when your area gets snow, it’s best to practice on an empty lot in full daylight.
- Drive slowly as it’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a snow-covered or an icy road.
- If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure, if you have non-anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
- Steer into the skid. If you find yourself in a skidding, remain calm and ease your foot off the gas carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go.
Prepare for Driving
The safest strategy is to avoid driving in bad weather conditions. If that isn’t a choice, plan before getting on the road. Driving in poor weather usually takes a lot longer and is more stressful.
- Tell someone where you are going, your route and your estimated time of arrival.
- Allow for extra to get to your destination.
- Be alert, well rested and sober behind the wheel.
- Wear your seat belt.
- Stay on main roads and drive carefully by matching your speed to the road and weather conditions.
- “Know Before you Go.” Call 511 or 1-855-GOMD511 or visit: http://www.md511.org for current travel information.
Winter is an optimal time to slow down and snuggle in. Doing so may not just make you feel happy; it might also help to keep you safe. So many collisions can be easily prevented by driving cautiously, alertly and patiently. It only takes a moment to change a life forever.