A Guide for Your Winter Road Trip

Snowy and icy roads are enough to make anyone want to stay indoors wrapped in a cozy blanket until spring. However, a little thing called life makes that impossible. There’s no need to hole up inside as long as you know how to handle the snow. These seven steps will help you prepare for the worst.

Get an Auto Inspection

Ideally, you should have your car inspected before the first snowfall, but if it sneaks up on you, get it to the mechanic as quickly as possible. They’ll want to run a winter maintenance inspection to check your battery, brakes, anti-freeze, and especially your tires, which should be switched to winter-ready tires if you’re in a particularly snowy area. You’ll probably want snow tires to help you maneuver icy roads without skidding.

Prepare a Kit

Don’t leave home without a preparedness kit in case you get stranded. You should keep a first aid kit, food, water, blankets, jumper cables, a shovel, and extra antifreeze in your car at all times. Such items may save you in a sticky situation.

Learn to Avoid Skidding

Keep in mind the proper way to handle your car if you lose control. Don’t slam on your breaks. Instead, take your foot off the gas, and turn your wheel in the direction you want to go. Once you have control of the car again, proceed slowly.

Be Aware of the Weather

Find out how the weather will be before you leave home, especially if you’re going on a long trip. If there is going to be a storm, postpone your drive if possible. You can also find road reports online that will show satellite images of road conditions, as well as alert you of road closures.

Slow Down

It is more dangerous to drive in the winter due to the slippery roads and low visibility. When you come upon an icy patch, slow down, but don’t hit your brakes too hard. This will just put you in more danger of skidding. Make sure you brake and accelerate slowly to avoid fishtailing and sliding. Don’t speed, as it is easy to slip on black ice and spin out. Plan at least an extra half an hour to an hour to get places in the winter. Drive more carefully and slower than you usually would during winter storms.

Don’t Let Your Gas Tank Get Low

The winter is no time to let your fuel tank hover on the empty line. If you’re stranded, your car will be your only source of heat, so you’ll want there to be enough fuel in the tank that you can last until help comes. As a general rule, don’t let your tank get below the halfway mark.

Bring a Phone Charger

When you’re driving out in the snow, there’s no reason not to take precautions in case you break down or get stuck, and having a working cell phone is part of that. Charge your cell phone before you leave, but also have a way to charge your cell phone in your car while driving. In case of emergency, you will be able to call for help, but only if your cell phone is charged. If your DC port does not work, you should buy a portable charger to take with you on long trips.

Stay Aware

Studies show that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. This becomes even more important during the winter when conditions are already risky. Make sure you get enough sleep before hitting the road and stay off the roads when you are tired. This is just as true for driving in the daytime as it is in the nighttime, as light can reflect off of snow and put a lot of strain on your eyes, due to the brightness (this can be helped by adding some tint to your car windows).
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