Winter Driving Safety Tips: Staying safe this Thanksgiving holiday weekend
Before you head out on the roads this Thanksgiving, make sure your vehicle is ready for whatever nature has in store.
According to AAA, approximately 43.4 million Americans will start to hit the roadways this afternoon for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. With so many people on the roads, and with a number of winter storm advisories throughout the country, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
Before you hit the roads, there are a couple of things you want to do to ensure your safety.
Vehicle Maintenance Checks
Winter weather can wreak havoc on a vehicle, that’s why it’s so important to make sure your up on all of your vehicles routine maintenance needs. Before you hit the roads today:
- Make sure you check your vehicles fluid levels – Antifreeze, oil, and transmission fluids should all be checked and topped off before you leave. Also, make sure you have enough windshield washer fluid in the reservoir and that it’s rated for freezing temperatures.
- Check your Battery- If your battery is over 3 years-old, it’s probably a good idea to have it checked before heading out on a long road trip. Most auto part stores offer free battery checks, and they only take a couple of minutes of your time.
- Check your air pressure - Under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure, in the winter this can be a huge problem. When the temperatures start to dip, cold weather can cause your tires to become dangerously under inflated. For every 10 degree drop in temperature, your tires can lose as much as 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. Before heading out, make sure you check your tire’s air pressure.
- Routine Checks – Before leaving, give your vehicle a final once-over. Look for leaks, worn out hoses, cracks in your belts and make sure you inspect your tire tread. If anything looks out of whack, now is the time to take care of it.
Winter Vehicle Preparedness
If you’re heading out on a long distance trip to see the family, don’t overlook the need to bring along some emergency supplies. Many people make the mistake of thinking they’re safe because they’re traveling on a major highway, but that might not always be the case. Winter storms can quickly and easily shutdown even high traffic highways, leaving motorists stranded on the roadways until emergency help can make their way through the storm.
Just like any emergency gear bag, your vehicle kit should be adapted for the unique needs of your family. That being said, there are some common items that everyone should consider keeping in their vehicle – especially when traveling far from home.
What Gear should be in your Emergency Vehicle Kit?
Vehicle Maintenance & Emergency Repairs
- Spare Fuses
- Tire Pump, Patches & a can of Fix a Flat
- Properly inflated spare tire (preferably full size)
- Extra Oil
- Gas Can (if you can safely haul it on your vehicle)
- Jumper cables
- Spare Hoses & Fan Belts
- Fire extinguisher
Every vehicle should have some sort of emergency bag that is changed out depending on the season. Essential winter supplies include:
Vehicle Specific Gear
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Flares & other Signaling devices
- Tow and tire chains
- Shovel (to dig your way our if you get stuck)
- Bag of salt or cat litter (for traction when stuck)
- Reflective triangles and brightly colored cloth
- Quality Car Jack
- Tire Chains (great for extra traction in snow, mud & sand)
- Traction Matt or a couple of feet of rolled up carpet (Great for getting unstuck in snow, mud & sand)
Safety & Winter Emergency Preparedness Gear
- Cellphone with Backup Cell Charger
- Emergency Communication Gear
- Working flashlight with extra batteries
- A Gallon of water per person
- First aid Kit
- Non-perishable, high-energy foods. Granola bars, beef jerky,, energy bars, dried fruits, and hard candy are all good to have on hand.
- Extra set of Warm Clothing (pants, socks, gloves, hat & rain gear)
- Blankets & Sleeping Bags
- Candles and a small tin can to hold the candle
- Water proof matches & Bic Lighter
Be Prepared To Stop
Far to many disasters happen on the roadways this time of year, because cause people aren’t willing to stop. Yes family is important, but driving through dangerous conditions just to make it to Thanksgiving dinner on time is not something that’s worth dying over. Your family probably cares more about your safety than they do about when you show up.
If conditions are bad, please be prepared to stop and hold up at a hotel or a truck stop until the roads are in safe traveling condition.