Safe Winter Driving Tips for When the Weather is Frightful

By | December 15, 2017 |
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The snow may be blowing and the ice may be slick, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay home this winter. Whether you need to drive for a business trip, a family holiday visit or a ski weekend, you can take these five steps to ensure you reach your destination safely:

1. Prepare Your Car

Have you prepped your car for the season? Check that your tires are fully inflated (if you have snow tires to put on your car, that’s even better). Replace wiper blades as needed, ensure your tank is full of cleaning fluid and pack an extra bottle just in case. Check to see if the lights on your car are working properly.

If you’re at all worried about your battery, have it checked to see that it’s fully charged and working well. Fill the car with gas and keep it half full for your entire trip.

2. Pack an Emergency Kit

You can buy a pre-assembled winter emergency kit at many hardware stores or you can make your own. It should include flares, a windshield scraper, a flashlight and spare batteries, a first-aid kit and booster cables. Other items to include are a shovel, chains for your tires (some mountain roads require you to install these in snowy weather), blankets and spare hats and gloves. And if you aren’t wearing boots, gloves, a hat and a winter jacket to drive, have these items readily available in the event that you need to get out of the car.

3. Learn Winter Driving 101

Before your trip, take some time to familiarize yourself with your car’s safety features. If you find yourself in a snowy or icy situation, the first thing you should do is slow down, especially on curves. Keep an eye on the road ahead of you to be alert for changing conditions and for other drivers. There should be about eight to 10 seconds of driving space between you and the car in front of you.

If you start to skid, don’t panic or slam on the brakes, but take your foot off the gas and steer gently in the direction you want to go, waiting for the car to slow down and the wheels to catch. Don’t stop when you are driving up hills, as you may lose traction and get stuck. And be sure to use your lights and wipers if it is difficult to see.

4. Choose the Safest Route

You may enjoy taking the less-traveled route, but remember that interstate highways will be cleared and sanded sooner — and more frequently — than many surface roads. If you are headed into areas with elevation, choose the route with the widest, safest roads even if it means a more round-about drive. If you usually rely on your mobile phone or GPS to choose your route, you might want to keep on hand a good road atlas as a back up in the event that weather forces you to make a different choice or your phone runs out of charge.

5. Stay Overnight

We know that winter driving can be challenging. Break up long drives by stopping to spend the night at a Holiday Inn, many of which are near interstates or on well-traveled routes. The IHG App will help you find the closest Holiday Inn hotel room — be sure to download it to your device before you leave home.