Undoubtedly, when the roads are covered in snow and/or ice the best option is to just stay hunkered down at home. However, for the majority of us, that’s not an option. In fact, 70 percent of US roads are located in snowy regions. and each year over 116,000 people are injured driving in the snow and ice.
Accumulation on roadways reduces tire friction and vehicle maneuverability and greatly increases the risk of accidents. So, as winter approaches and you make the necessary preparations to your vehicle, make sure you remember these winter driving safety tips to ensure you arrive at your destination safely.
- Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop.
- Allow at least 3 times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding.
- If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brakes.
- Turn on your lights.
- This will make you more visible to other motorists.
- Keep your windshield clean.
- Once it has defrosted, keep the windshield wipers on to wipe away all falling snow and avoid it freezing over again.
- Use low gears to keep traction.
- Drive especially slow on hills to avoid rolling backward.
- Steer into a skid to avoid a crash.
- This means if your rear wheels are going right, gently steer in that direction.
- Keep an emergency kit in your car.
- This should include a first aid kit, flashlight, water, blankets, and snowmelt or sand/kitty litter.
- Be on the lookout for black ice.
- Black ice is barely visible and makes roadways, bridges, and overpasses extremely slick
- Don’t pass snow plows.
- The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
- Don’t assume your vehicle won’t have problems.
- Even 4-wheel drive automobiles can have issues on ice and snow!
If your rear wheels skid…
- Take your foot off the accelerator.
- Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go.
- If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle under control.
- If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
- If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.
If your front wheels skid…
- Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
- As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
Stay warm & be careful out there!
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.
Icy roads. Traffic jams. Black ice. Snow conditions. All of these can make a parent go crazy just thinking about their teen driving in these conditions. How do you talk to your new driver about driving in the winter season? We have some easy tips to get the conversation going.
- Decrease your speed. The faster you’re going, the more room you’ll need to stop.
- Be extra careful on bridges and overpasses.
- Avoid cruise control or overdrive.
- Don’t pass snow plows – their drivers may not see you, and the roads are clearer behind them anyway!
- Turn on your lights to be more visible.
- Steer into a skid – this means if your rear wheels are going right, gently steer in that direction.
- Gently tap your brakes, if you have ABS brakes, gently apply constant pressure.
- Keep your windshield wiper fluid filled and keep your headlights clean.
These helpful ideas do not have to just be for your teen. Share with friends and family.
Driving is part of nearly every call, and medical emergencies do not stop happening on account of bad driving conditions. When winter rolls around, most people can leave the car in the garage and stay off the roads. As an EMT you don’t have that luxury, and there are certain precautions and considerations to take. Here are some tips on how to stay safe on the road as a paramedic, from keeping the vehicle in good condition to reducing your speed.
At the station
When the temperatures are dropping and you hear that first winter forecast of the season, preparing your vehicle should be your first move. If you drive a vehicle that belongs to a department, the tires are usually well maintained, and the tread depth should be sufficient for winter driving. Even so, it certainly doesn’t hurt to check. If you are a volunteer, then it is your responsibility to check the inflation and tread depth of the tires on your vehicle.
Check that you have the appropriate level of fluids that are specifically meant to combat freezing temperature, namely antifreeze. Also, your windshield wiper fluid should be rated not to freeze, so make sure you’ve got enough. You’d hate to be flying blind out there.
Speaking of your windshield wipers and your windshield, make sure your wiper blades are soft, pliable and in good condition. Visibility is greatly reduced in inclement weather, so remember to clean your windows and windshield thoroughly between calls. Ice, snow and salt can all accumulate over time, so make sure that your headlights and emergency lights are cleared off. This ensures other motorists can see you when you’re rushing to respond. Snow and ice can also pack into your siren cones, so clear those out to make sure your siren is at full volume.
On the road
Getting your vehicle properly prepared to face the harsh environment in the event of a call is only half the battle. The rest takes place when you’re actually driving, and a main factor is ice. You don’t always see ice, so an important thing to do when you’re responding to a call is to reduce your speed and increase your stopping distance. You may tend to ignore your speed while focusing to respond as fast as possible, but you may be putting yourself and other motorists in danger.
Black ice can show up anywhere; so remember that just because you can see the road does not mean it is free of ice. Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze before the rest of the road does, so be especially careful when your route takes you over one. Ice isn’t always the culprit in winter driving, so watch out for snow and slush as well. Snow and slush make roads slippery, and you can get stuck in particularly deep snow. Don’t drive into deep snow unless you are driving a vehicle that is adequately suited for it.
Above all, be careful! With a proactive attitude and an awareness of road conditions, you’ll be able to carefully and quickly respond to any emergency calls during the winter.
Cheryl Bikowski is Marketing Communications Supervisor of Gamber-Johnson in Stevens Point, WI. Gamber-Johnson is a leading supplier of vehicle computer mounts and vehicle docking stations and is a member of the Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products (CVP) Group.
While winter weather has been lingering for a couple of months, there’s still more to come. Did you know that heavy rains, blizzards, and ice storms often arrive in February and March across many parts of the country?
Here are a few life-saving tips to remember as you get on the road this season.
- Remove bulky coats/jackets when buckling children into car safety seats.
In an accident, the material will squish down and the harnessing system will be too loose to be effective. Layer blankets on your child’s lap after buckling them in.
A list of recommended warm clothing that won’t interfere with car seat safety can be found here.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full.
This prevents water condensation from getting into and freezing up fuel lines. A frozen fuel line means limited gas supply to the engine, stopping you in your tracks.
- Use wiper fluid that is formulated to NOT freeze.
Windshields coated with ice or splashback from roads create dangerous visibility. You will need to clean your windshield while driving, and only fluid that stays liquid will do the job.
- Prepare a winter car safety kit.
Experts recommend carrying tire chains, jumper cables, a shovel, ice scraper, and even spare wiper blades. Other life-saving items include bottles of water, high-calorie foods and snacks, blankets or sleeping bags, a spare pair of boots, flashlights, gloves, solar cell phone chargers, and a first aid kit. Kitty litter for traction is also a good idea.
- Be aware of deadly carbon monoxide in your vehicle(s).
If you can smell exhaust in your vehicle’s cabin, you should have your systems checked. Leaks in exhaust systems, defective ventilation systems, and even an unsecured back hatch or partially open trunk can allow carbon monoxide gas into your vehicle. Tailpipes blocked with snow or ice can send carbon monoxide into the vehicle too.
Also, warming a car in a garage, even with the door open, allows dangerous concentrations of the gas into the vehicle and even into your home.
It’s important that everyone knows the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Bring essential medications in case you get stranded.
- Don’t venture out in extreme conditions unless it’s an emergency.
You are not only putting your life in danger, but also the lives of first responders who will have to venture out to search for you if you get lost or stranded.
TAKEAWAY: Find more winter driving tips and preparation at the California Casualty blog.