As we head towards another winter of crazy weather in Western Washington I’m reminded of all of the fun driving experiences I had during the last “Snowmagedon”. While I don’t claim to be an expert, I have taken a winter driving class and have been around the block a time or two.
Here are my top five tips to stay safe on the roads this winter-
- Clean and apply Rain X to your windshield-
In many cases, heavy rain and sleet are just as dangerous as snow. Getting that water beaded up and off your windshield quickly makes a HUGE difference in how well you can see what’s going on in front of you. I apply Rain-X at least 3-4 times a winter and it makes it easier to see the road, keep the grime away and makes me feel much safer on the roads. Bonus tip – When you are cleaning y our windshield, take the extra time to also clean the inside with a glass cleaner. Snowy conditions can cause your windshield to fog up and having it clean allows your defroster to work much more effectively.
- Check to make sure your windshield washer fluid lines are not frozen – Before you drive in cold weather make sure to heat your engine up and test the washer fluid. The slush and grime that accumulates on the road quickly adheres to your windshield. If your washer tank is frozen you can’t clear it off and can’t see out the windshield. I’ve been there and it’s one of the scariest things you will ever encounter on the road.
- Always pack an emergency kit in your car- If you get stuck, you need to have some warm clothes for everyone in your car, hiking shoes or snow boots, water and granola bars, and a good flashlight or two. Remember though, stay in your car unless you are in danger. Walking along an icy road is a bad idea when other drivers could lose control at any time.
- Don’t brake when making a turn or taking a curve in the road- On dry roads, we are used to braking while we are turning. When driving on snow and ice however, hitting the brakes is likely to send your car into a spin and land you in the ditch or worse. As you approach a turn or curve in the road, take your foot off the accelerator and gently tap your brakes if necessary before you get to the curve.
- Don’t drive in the snow if you don’t have to- Sometimes people feel like if they have 4WD they can go anywhere, any conditions – not true. Even with a 4WD vehicle, snow/ice driving is dangerous. Sometimes that danger is from the people around you as well! My most embarrassing moment during last years snowstorm was calling by neighbor to come tow me out of a ditch….twice….in the same place. Luckily only my pride was hurt, but really, It’s just not worth the risk.
I hope that you find these tips helpful and will take them to heart this winter. They could just save your life.
~ Ryan Stueber