6 Tips for Safe Driving in Winter and Vehicle Maintenance November 2022

driving tips

The last week of November brings road travel to one of its high points of the year.  One that will be repeated with multiple secular holidays over the coming days and weeks.  To be safe on the road at a time when road conditions tend to be unfavorable and at times when there will be countless other motorists going to a multitude of gatherings and celebrations, it is the time to take steps to make sure you are prepared for what you may encounter on the road.

Be Aware of Changing Weather Conditions.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has collected data that reveals over 20% of all vehicular incidents are directly related to weather conditions.  It is therefore wise to know what weather you expect to encounter, especially if it is a long road trip that could have you driving through different weather conditions along the way.  At times you may need to be modest and not attempt to continue on your way or even cancel your trip altogether if you expect to face conditions that could put your safety at risk.  In addition, weather forecasts can change abruptly, so continuing to monitor expected conditions frequently will help to prevent being caught off guard in unsafe driving conditions.

Protect Your Visibility

First and foremost, your windshield must be clean.  What may appear to be minor streaks or smudges can become significant visual deterrents at night or in the rain or snow.  Clean the windshield well and have supplies on hand that can reclean if needed.  Wiper blades need to be checked to confirm they are in good condition.  Particularly in freezing conditions, wiper blades can easily tear or get damaged if ice forms on the windshield. 

Inspect Your Tires

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) nearly 700 deaths in 2020 were the direct result of the tires on the vehicle.  Inspect your tread depth to confirm your tires are safe to drive on especially if there is a chance you could encounter rain, snow, or ice on the trip. 

Test Essential Equipment

Check the battery cables and confirm they do not show evidence of erosion.  Test the defogger and deicer on your vehicle. The last thing you need is to be driving at night in the snow and have no way to see clearly!

Have Safety Equipment on Hand

Despite your best efforts, there are still things out of your control.  To be prepared for the unexpected, it is wise to have items such as blankets, jumper cables, an emergency tool kit, flares, a small shovel, and even some food and water on hand.  How many have seen news media videos where entire highways are full of cars stranded in extreme conditions?  I’m sure those who faced such emergencies were relieved if they had such life-saving supplies!

Have a B Plan

If you encounter extreme conditions close to home it may be easy to turn around and get back to safety. However, for longer trips, it may require finding last-minute accommodations or to deviate your intended route to one that is safer to travel on.  Being familiar with how to safely find alternate routes or to find accommodations using a device while parked can come in handy.  Make sure your phone is fully charged and that you can recharge it if needed!

At NHSA, our goal is to provide online driver education courses that equip all drivers with what they need to be safe drivers.  Whether you are a teen seeking a learner’s permit, or an adult driver seeking a basic driver safety course, check us out online to see what courses are available in your state!

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