Driving in the winter can be extremely dangerous. The hazards that winter roads present you often requires you to completely change the way you drive. Snow, sleet and ice can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions and unforeseen dangers. Most of the deaths that happen during the winter months are caused by car accidents. Keep you and your family safe by using the National Safety Council’s winter vehicle safety tips and checklists.
At any temperature – 20° F below zero or 90° F above zero – weather affects road and driving conditions and can pose serious problems. Your local radio, TV and newspaper forecasts will give you the most up-to-date information on weather and road conditions.
Prepare your vehicle
Have your vehicle serviced regularly (check the owner’s manual for the recommended interval) to ensure better gas mileage, quicker starts, faster response
on pick-up and passing power, and to prevent major problems.
- You need to check the concentration level of the antifreeze in your vehicle’s engine. This is done by using an antifreeze tester which is inserted into the water reservoir of your car. Do not open the radiator cap!
- Add a stronger windshield cleaning/de-icer fluid solution to keep the spray from freezing. (It is best to use a product that has a cleaner as well. This allows you to dislodge the road grime from the windshield.)
- Check air pressure in your tires (including the spare) and replace any worn tires. (Having proper wheel alignment will lead to a longer life for your tires).
Vehicle Safety Checklist for Winter Weather
Before winter starts, check these in your vehicle:
Heater and windshield defroster
Lights and emergency flashers
Power steering fluid
Keep your fuel tank full or near full to avoid being caught on the road in long lines of slow moving traffic. (This also is a reserve to be able to run the engine and
heater if you become stranded). Always carry an emergency kit in your vehicle
Vehicle Emergency Kit
An emergency situation on the road can arise at any time. Be prepared with a “survival kit” that should always remain in the
vehicle. Your kit should include:
Working flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and the
jack designed for your vehicle
Tow and tire chains
Jumper cables and a toolkit
Blanket, warm clothes, hat and gloves
Brightly colored cloth
A bag of salt, sand or non-clumping kitty litter to use
for added traction when a tire is stuck
Extra washer fluid
Ice scraper, snow brush and shovel
Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
Non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted
canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy
If You Become Stranded:
- Do not leave your vehicle unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help and are certain you will improve your situation
- To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the vehicle a safe distance away
- Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna
- If you are sure the vehicle’s exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending on the amount of gas in the tank
- Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia; use woolen items and blankets to keep warm
- Keep at least one window open slightly as heavy snow and ice can seal a vehicle shut
- Eat hard candy to keep your mouth moist