Road tripping this holiday season? Leave the stress at home and enjoy your time away by being prepared for safety.
Before You Head Out:
- Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. Have your car and tires inspected before you leave. Under inflation of tires reduces fuel economy, and tires that are low in air damage handling and braking, wear more rapidly, and can overheat and blowout.
- Check the weather before heading out. If conditions are bad, or bad weather is threatening, only head out if absolutely necessary.
- Before leaving, let people know when you’re leaving, your route and your expected arrival time.
- Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
- If you’re traveling with children, accompany them on bathroom breaks and remind them not to talk with strangers.
- Make sure gifts, electronic devices or other items of value are kept out of sight, such as in a trunk.
- Keep cold weather gear, including food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, blankets and more, in your vehicle, especially when traveling long distances.
- Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times to request help.
Driving Tips in Bad Weather:
- Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your car at all times.
- Adjust your speed for conditions, and remember that you have less traction on snow and ice.
- Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids.
- Remember that it takes much longer to slow down on icy roads, so add in extra following distance and time to slow down for a traffic signal or stopped traffic.
- Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will simply make your wheels spin. Try to get some speed going before you reach a hill and let that carry you to the top of the hill. As you reach the top, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
- Try to avoid stopping while going up a hill, as you won’t have the needed inertia to get moving again.
If you get stuck in the snow:
- Stay with your vehicle as it provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to find you. Do not try to walk to shelter in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle or become lost or disoriented in blowing snow or at night.
- Don’t overexert yourself when clearing the car or digging out of the snow. Stop if you become tired.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle, or place a clothing at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud, as a blocked exhaust pipe can cause carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment while the engine is running.
- Stay warm by insulating your body from the cold with anything you have at hand, including newspapers or floor mats if you don’t have blankets for extra clothing available.
- Conserve fuel by running the engine and heater briefly to remove the cold.
*This article was originally published December 16, 2019.