What to do Before You Go, While You’re Out, and If You’re Stuck
Winter weather is upon us, and as much as we’d like to see you, we really don’t want to have you in our shop due to an accident on this year’s inevitably icy roads. And in the area we’re in, heavy snowfall and ice-covered roads won’t be a surprise to anyone.
Unfortunately, accidents like these are a lot more likely than you may imagine. Here are some numbers to prove it:
- 17% of all vehicle crashes happen in winter conditions.
- There are 156,164 crashes annually due to icy roads.
- More than 1,300 people are killed in car crashes on snowy or icy roads every year, and 76,000 get injured in traffic accidents during snowfall each year.
We have to resist the “it won’t happen to me” mentality, and seriously take into consideration how to be as safe as possible when it comes to driving the roads throughout the winter. Here’s how:
Before You Go
Always be prepared for the worst. There are some things you can do before you go in case you’ll be faced with a bad situation the next time you’re out:
- Test your battery, which can lose power as temperatures decrease.
- Check your windshield wiper blades and replace if needed.
- Use wiper fluid that works for -30 degrees.
- Keep over half a tank of gas in your vehicle at all times, which can freeze if under this level.
- Consistently check the air pressure and tread on your tires. If your tread is less than 2/32 of an inch, replace them or use winter tires.
- Keep a bag full of cold-weather gear if you’re stranded due to an accident. This can include things like blankets, food and water, extra clothing, a flashlight, medications, and more.
- Let others know when and where you’re going so that somebody is aware you’re out on the roads.
While You’re Out
- Stay home. The first tip is quite simple, but important not to overlook. If you do not absolutely have to go somewhere, don’t risk it. Check the weather to see if there is a better time to go.
- Drive, brake, and accelerate slowly. With snow or ice, your vehicle doesn’t have as much traction. Drive as if there’s an egg between your foot and the pedals, and it’s your goal not to break it, so you’re gentle with increasing or decreasing your speed. Give yourself more distance to come to a stop.
- Increase your following distance. To go along with the last tip, you will need more time to react to changes in speed ahead of you; make sure to increase your margin between you and the vehicle in front of you to between six and eight seconds.
- Don’t stop or drastically speed up a hill. To go up hills in winter weather, it’s beneficial to gain inertia before starting to help carry you, instead of relying on powering up halfway through, whether you’re stopped or not, and making your tires spin.
- Pay attention. Another simple, but essential tip. Don’t use cruise control while on any type of slippery surface; make sure you’re in control of the vehicle and completely focused on doing so the entire time. If you do feel your vehicle start to slide, always looks where you want to go, instead of where you’re headed for in that moment.
If You’re Stuck:
If you do happen to get stuck in the snow, there are a few things that are important to do:
- Don’t leave your vehicle. Not only is your vehicle a form of shelter from the winter weather, it’s how others will locate you. Venturing out could get you lost in severe conditions.
- Mark your vehicle. If you have a brightly colored piece of fabric or material, tie it to the antenna of your car to stand out. If it’s dark outside, keeping the dome light on, which only uses a minimal amount of electricity, can help people notice you.
- Unclog your exhaust pipe. Clear your exhaust pipe of any snow, mud, or ice. If blocked, it can push fatal carbon monoxide gas into the passenger compartment while you’re vehicle is running.
- Keep yourself warm and in good condition. Don’t overexert yourself while digging out your vehicle, and find whatever materials you can, maps even, to insulate your body. To conserve fuel, only start your car and use the heat to remove the chill, and then turn it off again (if your situation allows it).
We’re here to help if the winter weather gets the best of your vehicle. Check out our services, including body frame repair, rental, and towing services, to see how we can help you get back on the roads as soon as possible.