15 Essential Winter Safety Driving Tips

Tips for driving in a winter storm

Whether you’ve lived in Colorado your whole life or you live in a desert environment, crazy winter weather can strike. It’s important to prepare yourself and your family with these winter safety driving tips.

Snow makes for a lot of fun outdoor activities with friends and family. However, you should also prepare for messier conditions like ice and sleet. Once winter precipitation occurs, it doesn’t take long for roads to become icy and slick, and even the slush that follows can be dangerous. Driving in such conditions is challenging for any driver — no matter how experienced. To keep you and your loved ones safe through the upcoming winter, consider these winter safety driving tips.

Understand Your Insurance

This may not sound like one of those winter safety driving tips I mentioned, but accidents are more likely to happen in winter weather. So, first of all, it’s essential that you grasp the basics of what your insurance policy will cover in the event of an accident. When it comes to filing a claim, how much the insurance company will pay depends on how much they consider the vehicle to be worth. And if the vehicle is valued at less than the repair cost, the company will generally view it as a total loss. Before winter hits, be sure to contact your insurance provider with any questions you have. 

Keep Your Phone Handy

You obviously don’t want to use your phone to text and call people when you’re driving, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful. You can actually turn your smartphone into a valuable asset for winter driving, particularly by always having it with you in case of sudden severe weather or other types of emergencies. The mobile phone app What3Words has assigned a unique set of three words to every  3m square on the planet. If you find yourself caught in the weather or off course, you can look up the three words that go with your location on the app and send them to someone who will then be able to find your precise location by looking up that word combo. It’s a potential life saver!

When it comes to reliability, it’s hard to beat the new iPhone 11. It has excellent battery capacity and recharges quickly, which means you know you can always count on it to monitor the weather and contact first responders if you need to. If you prefer Android devices, the OnePlus 7 Pro is right up there with the iPhone in terms of performance and features. 

Make Sure You Have the Right Gear in Your Vehicle

Most of us already keep a bag in our vehicles, but during the winter, depending on your climate, you might need to upgrade it to a winter kit. Here’s a checklist with some ideas on things you might want to include in the event you end up stranded someplace for a few hours or more. This story is about a guy who kept himself and his family safe for two days in the frigid mountains of Northwestern Nevada with just what he had in his vehicle and his survival skills.

Evaluate Your Tires 

You can’t afford to drive around in the snow and ice with worn-out tires. So, check your tires (or go to a mechanic), and be sure to replace them if the tread is too low or if there are other issues, such as sidewall bulges, cracks, or punctures. All-season tires are usually sufficient for winter in milder climates. However, snow tires are often suggested in places with more harsh climates, depending on what kind of vehicle you have and what the weather patterns are like.

Service Your Vehicle

There are also several other maintenance tasks to perform on your vehicle to get it ready for the winter season. Here are some things to consider:

  • Check your battery and replace it if necessary, as freezing weather causes batteries not to operate at full strength.
  • Make sure your fluids are up-to-date, especially your engine oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, and power steering fluid. 
  • Inspect all the lights (e.g., headlights, taillights, indicators, brake lights, etc.).
  • Check your brakes. 
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition.
  • Use windshield washer fluid that doesn’t freeze.

If you want to go the safest route, take your vehicle in for a full inspection and service. That way, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you forgot something.

Take Extra Precautions with These Winter Safety Driving Tips

Finally, there are some extra precautions you’ll need to take each time you get behind the wheel during those hazardous winter weather months. These are some of the most essential winter safety driving tips.

  • Drive significantly slower than you normally would.
  • Use the brakes sparingly and gently.
  • Leave plenty of space between you and other cars.
  • Take turns wider than you normally would. 
  • Never let off the gas while going uphill.
  • Never use cruise control.

The Bottom Line on Safe Winter Driving

Snowy winters are beautiful, but as in any state with harsh winter weather, the roads can quickly become treacherous. Make sure you’re clear on what your insurance policy will and will not cover in the event of an accident, and always keep a reliable smartphone with you. Also, be sure to check your tires, fully service your vehicle before winter comes, and take all the necessary driving precautions. If you need a reliable tire gauge, here is one I recommend. It may sound like a lot to do at first, but making these preparations will help you stay safe and enjoy your winter. 

 

Stay safe, secure, and prepared,

Brian Duff signature

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