Any Jo Schmo can drive a car but how about driving it safely? Well now, that requires a bit more in the smarts department. You know you’re a smart son of a gun so don’t worry because by the time you finish reading this you’ll be even smarter, and you will know all you need to do to prep your car for safe operation in the winter and especially during the busy holiday driving season. Grandma wants to see you get home for the holidays in one piece, and she is probably making your favorite dessert, so make sure you pay attention!
There are three key things you need to be aware of and proactively check into to make sure you and your car are ready for the season:
- The status of your vehicle’s vitals
- Your defensive driving habits
- Your plan for emergency preparedness
The status of your vehicle’s vitals
Your car has vitals—did you know that? The main ones that matter for the winter when the temperatures drop are your tire pressure, antifreeze levels, brakes and heating and cooling system. Check your user’s manual or drop by a local tire shop to find out the right tire pressure for your wheel and vehicle type during winter months when tires tend to contract a little due to the cooler temperatures. Have your radiator flushed if necessary if it has built up solids so that your car does not overheat when you turn on the warm air. Check your antifreeze and get an oil change for long road trips. Also, have your brakes inspected for plenty of padding to safely make it through stop and go traffic in inclement weather.
Your defensive driving habits
Even if your car is in good shape you have to be on alert at all times and especially when there is more traffic on the road such as during the busy holiday driving season. People tend to be stressed and more reactive when they are rushing and trying to get out of town. This means that always, but especially during this time of year, you have to keep your eyes on the road and drive for yourself—and others too. If you want to take your safety preparations to an even higher level (grandma would be proud) it is great to go beyond these winter driving tips and actually get some coaching on defensive driving tactics either in person or online.
Your plan for emergency preparedness
The best plans can sometimes go wrong so you need to be prepared in advance for a potential road emergency. Make sure you have an inflated spare tire in your trunk, a first aid and emergency survival kit, and a flash light and pack of batteries. If possible, you should also have an emergency roadside assistance service like AAA or add roadside assistance to your auto insurance policy. In case of a vehicle crash do not move the cars or leave the scene of the incident. Also, be sure to call law enforcement immediately and get the other driver’s complete information and share yours, including insurance name and policy, tag numbers, phone numbers, e-mail address, driver’s name, and vehicle make, type and year.
With these winter safety driving tips in mind you will be a smart and safe driver on the roads this season!
Written by Ebo Ramsin.