Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tips for Safe Winter Driving

I don't know how the weather is in your neck of the woods but here in New York, it's not that great, unless you like the cold and the freezing rain and the slushy ice. Give me summer any day. I'll never forget one January about 15 years ago when my sister and I were driving over the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, laughing and talking as we drove merrily along, when suddenly we skidded over an icy patch on the road and our car crashed into some huge yellow sand barrels. Those were the only things that stood between us and a hundred foot drop over the ramp and onto the traffic below. Next thing you know the police and the fire department showed up but fortunately we were unharmed- not even a scratch. So at this time of year, with the situation on the roads being as unpredictable as they are, it's best to follow some basic guide lines to help you navigate the roads and keep you and your family safe during the winter season.

Winterize your car. Check the tires. Make sure they are properly inflated and that the tire threads are good and deep. Make sure your spare is good and think about investing in a new set of tires if you are due a change. Check the fluids and antifreeze. Ensure that the heating system is working. Don't forget the windshield wipers. It may be wise to have a spare set handy. Keep an ice scraper and some work gloves handy too. Also check to see that your jumper cables are in the trunk and that you know how to use them.

Drive slowly; especially in inclement weather. When it's snowy outside and visibility is low, maintain a safe distance, even more than you usually would in good weather, behind the car in front of you in case they skid on some black ice or have to stop suddenly.

Keep your lights turned on even in the daytime when the weather is bad and visibility is poor. This also keeps you visible to the other drivers on the road.

Brake carefully and gently on slippery ice or snow. Keep the wheels of your vehicle rolling and f your brakes threaten to lock up, ease your foot gently off the brakes and slow down so you can shift to a lower gear.

Pull over. If you cannot see properly because of low visibility due to freezing rain or hail or snow, consider pulling over and waiting until the situation improves enough for you to drive. If you are in the city like me, consider leaving the car at home altogether and taking mass transit.

Most importantly, don't forget to buckle up and keep your cellphone charged and ready in case of an emergency.

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