Safe Winter Driving Practices

Winter-DrivingWhile looking around on the Maryland MVA (Motor Vehicle Administration) website, their ‘Safe Winter Driving’ page caught my eye. Winter driving always seems to catch us off guard, it comes every year, but we forget how to drive in winter conditions at the start.  So, here’s a friendly reminder, and some tips on how to stay on the road without breaking down or crunching your car.

Service your vehicle now. No one wants to break down in any season, but especially not in cold or snowy winter weather. Start the season off right by ensuring your vehicle is in optimal condition. (Schedule your Service Appointment at JBA Chevrolet online)

Check your battery. When the temperature drops, so does battery power. Plus, it takes more power to start your vehicle in cold weather than in warm. Find out if your battery is up to the challenges of winter.

Check your cooling system.  When coolant freezes, it expands. Such expansion can potentially damage your vehicle’s engine block beyond repair. Don’t let this happen to your vehicle this winter!

Fill the washer reservoir.  You can go through a lot of windshield wiper fluid fairly quickly in a single snowstorm, so be prepared for whatever Mother Nature might send your way. Keep an extra bottle in the trunk.

Keep windows and mirrors clean.  Safe winter driving depends on achieving and maintaining the best visibility possible. Good visibility is always important, but even more so during the winter months when road conditions can make driving extremely hazardous.

Check your windshield wipers and defrosters.  The summer has a tendency to dry-out wiper blades, making them brittle enough to crack and come apart. Now is the time to change your windshield wipers before you get caught in the rain or in a snowstorm.

Inspect your tires.  Regardless of the season, you should inspect your tires at least once a month and always before embarking on a long road trip. It only takes about five minutes. If you find yourself driving under less-than-optimal road conditions this winter, you’ll be glad you took the time!

Know your vehicle.  Every vehicle handles somewhat differently; this is particularly true when driving on wet, icy, or snowy roads. Take time now to learn how to best handle your vehicle under winter weather driving conditions.

  • Practice cold weather driving when your area gets snow — but not on a main road! Until you’ve sharpened your winter weather driving skills and know how your vehicle handles in snowy conditions, it’s best to practice in an empty lot in full daylight.
  • Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, sufficiently increase your following distance to provide a safety cushion between your vehicle and others on the road. Braking time is slower in these conditions, and you must allow yourself more room.
  • A word of caution about braking: Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and how to use them properly. In general, if you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure, if you have non anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
  • If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. This procedure, known as “steering into the skid,” will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.

Stock your vehicle.  Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving tasks — such as cleaning off your windshield — as well as any supplies you might need in an emergency. Keep the following on hand:

  • Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
  • Abrasive material, such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
  • Jumper cables, flashlight and warning devices, such as flares and markers.
  • Blankets for protection from the cold.
  • A cell phone, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).

Plan ahead, know your travel route and allow extra travel time.  Keep yourself and others safe by planning ahead before you venture out into bad weather. Driving in bad weather usually takes longer and is more stressful. Check the weather, road conditions, and traffic; plan to leave early if necessary.

JBA Chevrolet
7327 Ritchie Highway
Glen Burnie, MD
443-763-5076

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