Winter Driving Tips

winter road

Winter can be a time filled with family, friends and food. However, winter weather may make it more complicated to get out of the house, especially when you’re the one driving. Snow, ice, sleet and cold temperatures create new challenges for older drivers. Older drivers who rely on their own vehicle for transportation are probably well aware that driving in winter weather requires additional safety measures and extra care. The Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety has rounded up a few winter safety tips to share.

Prepare your car before you have to drive anywhere in winter weather. Here are a few reminders of what to check:

Winterize your vehicle

Give your vehicle a little extra care during the winter months. Make sure that your brakes, headlights, and windshield wipers are working properly. Make sure you add windshield wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

As the outside temperature drops, so does tire inflation pressure. Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure.

Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car. If you are using all-season tires, check the tread and replace if the tread has worn down to less than 2/32 of an inch.

In cold weather, gasoline and diesel engines take more battery power to start. Have a mechanic check your battery, charging system, belts, and for any other needed repairs or replacements.

Make sure you have enough coolant/antifreeze in your vehicle, and that it meets the manufacturer’s specifications. See your vehicle owner’s manual for recommendations.

Safety Technologies

Familiarize yourself with safety technologies on your vehicle and how they perform in wintry conditions.

Avoid rush hour and back roads

During heavy traffic periods, there are more people on the road and higher chances for crashes. If you must go out during rush hour, be aware of black ice and traffic jams. If the roads are bad, avoid using back roads and shortcuts. Because there are fewer cars on the road, they are less likely to be plowed or salted and may be more dangerous than well-traveled roads.

Travel with someone if possible

Travel companions can be great during the winter months. Not only do they keep you awake and aware, but they can also help you to navigate the slippery roads and get through heavy traffic. If you don’t have someone to travel with in bad winter weather, make sure that someone knows where you’re going and that you have a cell phone with you in case of an emergency.

In addition, keep your car stocked with winter essentials including a flashlight, shovel, and blankets. Fill your tank or charge your car before you go, and plan your route before you leave.

Find more winter tips at The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.