Winter Driving Safety Tip No. 1:

Avoid Cruise Control

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends avoiding cruise control in winter conditions. Here’s what AAA says about the issue, “On wet roads, cruise control set at too fast a speed could cause the vehicle to hydroplane when it encounters standing water. On very low-traction surfaces such as ice and snow, cruise control operation can result in a skid or spin. Drive safe and avoid using cruise control on slippery roads.”

Wake Up Early And Remove Snow And Ice From Your Car

Before hitting the road, remove all potential ice chunks and snow from your vehicle that could create additional blind spots. Its miserable. We know. You’re running late for work, and you’re in a rush to get out the door, but it snowed last night and your car is completely frozen over. It must be done. As much as we love sleep, give yourself a few extra minutes to warm up your car and wipe it down in the morning. Invest in an ice scraper and brush for best results. Clear your rearview mirrors, headlights, and all windows.

Drive Defensively

Use your best judgement and take your time driving to your destination. Let tailgaters or aggressive drivers pass you so you can focus on your driving. Defensive driving does not go out of style even in the winter.

Clear Your Garage

You can avoid a snowy vehicle completely by just parking in the garage. Its not that simple for many as garages are hubs for clutter and storage. If you have a garage, it may be best to clear it out for the winter to save time clearing ice and snow off your car. Remember to never warm up your vehicle in a garage as the combustion creates carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do A Deep Inside Clean of Your Vehicle

Attempt to make your car as light as possible. The more mass your vehicle has, the more difficult it will be to steer and stop. Do a deep clean of your vehicle and get rid of any non-essential items.

Half Full Or Half Empty?

Are you a half full or half empty kind of person? Either way, it is best to keep at least a half tank of gas during the holiday season. You do not want to be caught in a blizzard on an empty tank.

Double The 3-Second Rule

Remember the three second rule in drivers ed? You pick a non-moving object while driving, like a tree, a sign, or a mail box, and start counting after the vehicle in front of you passes it. By the time you get to your chosen object, three second should have passed. Anything under, and your too close. The three second rule applies to good road conditions and broad daylight. In winter conditions where ice is present, following distance should be at least six seconds. 

Watch For Deer

Wisconsin has a hearty population of white-tailed deer. According to the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation, October, November, and December are prime months for deer-vehicle collisions. Be especially watchful early in the morning and late at night. The chances you will pass a deer crossing your path is high as there is an estimated 1.6 million deer accounted for by the Wisconsin DNR as of 2020.

Winter Driving Safety Tip No. 2: Have An Emergency Supply Kit On Hand

 

Keep A Charged Portable Charger In Your Glove Compartment

This is the best tip I have ever used. If you do not have a portable charger, you need to get one now. This comes in handy not only for the winter months, but all year long. I was once driving in the cities and my phone was at 10% and I needed to get home. The panic experienced in that moment is excruciating. It is even more upsetting when you know you had one in there and you took it out for something else…. Buy a portable charger for situations like these and worse to keep in your car. 

Stock Up In Heat Packets

These things work like a charm. Heat packets can be found at Walmart or Amazon for a relatively cheap price. These pocket sized packets produce heat without requiring a power source. Just shake them and sigh.

Have A Light Source Within Reach

Keep a light source such as a flashlight or LED beanie within reach. It gets dark earlier in the winter. The chances you’ll be pulled out of the snow is the dark are pretty high.

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The worst thing you could possibly do is panic if you get stranded. Keeping a calming pouch of CBD gummies can go a long way in a stressful situation. Keeping other non-spoiling snacks isn’t a bad idea either. 

Get Cat Litter

Yes, it sounds weird to suggest, but cat littler can help with traction. If you’re in a situation where your tires are spinning or getting stuck, pour kitty litter under your vehicles wheels and accelerate slowly. 

Keep Jumper Cables In Your Trunk

Car batteries don’t like cold weather. Cold temperatures are one of the top things that can drain your battery. Keep jumper cables in your car if your battery suddenly decides to go ka-put on you. 

Keep Blankets In Your Back Seat

We know this list sounds long, but a blanket is a keeper. Keep a heavy duty blanket in your car at all times. 

Reflective Vest For An Emergency

If you have ever seen the Hallmark movie ‘New In Town,’ the main character Lucy gets stranded in a ditch late at night, as she swerves to avoid a cow in the road during a Minnesota whiteout. Lucy stayed in her vehicle staying warm as best she could. This is the best method if stranded outside of town. It is best to call for help and wait in your vehicle rather than ditch it, but in many cases that’s not an option. Keep a runners reflective vest in your car if you are caught in this situation. Visibility is key here.

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The Worst Winter Driving Habits

Driving Too Fast

We’re not in Kansas anymore. Okay, we weren’t in Kansas to begin with, but you can’t bring your summer driving habits into winter. Speed limits provide a speed limit for ideal driving conditions. A slower speed is a wiser speed during snowy conditions. Get a feel for the road and use  your best judgement.

Driving With Broken Wind Shield Wipers

Do not attempt to drive home when its snowing if your wind shield wipers blow out. This happened to me once, but with rain…. I was driving home late at night in my Malibu, rain pouring and my wind shield wipers just stop! I pulled over but then decided to continue onward as the rain seemed it would fall all night. I made it to Walmart, but drove over the curb! It was terrifying. Don’t do something stupid like this. Snow is much worse.

Neglecting General Vehicle Maintenance

Before or during the winter season, make sure your tires aren’t low and your tread is safe for driving through snow. We all have a little bit of procrastination in us. Let’s not neglect general vehicle care. It can go a long way.

Doing Donuts

No, we aren’t talking about jelly filled donuts. We are talking car donuts. A donut is a donut shaped maneuver performed while driving a vehicle. Its very easy to do in the winter… especially tempting in a parking lost with lots of snow. Let’s avoid any car crashes this winter and stick with the jelly filled donuts instead.

Not Checking The Weather And Road Conditions

Guilty as charged. Sometimes the best winter driving safety tip is to simply check the weather. It takes moments to check your local weather on your weather app or laptop. The best thing you can do is to stay aware of your surroundings, road conditions, potential weather turns, or road closures. Stay tuned to the weather before and during road travel.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the number one cause for car accidents and fatalities within the United States. A distraction is anything that takes your attention off the road, such as adjusting music, texting, calling, or food. Any number of things can take our attention away. Your focus is especially important during the holiday season. Stay safe and keep your eyes on the road.

Following Too Close

The winter months bring out the best and worst in people. It is especially important to control emotions and be patient. We don’t know what’s going on with the car in front of us. Some cars don’t have four wheel drive. Patience is essential to prevent possible accidents when roads are slick or not entirely plowed. Its better to be safe than sorry!