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Winter Driving

Driving in inclement weather requires proper vehicle maintenance, pre-trip planning, specific driving skills and the correct driving attitude. The Mid-Atlantic Foundation For Safety and Education's Winter Driving program offers these driving tips:

WINTER SURVIVAL KIT 10-POINT CHECKLIST

  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Blankets
  • Booster cables
  • Warning device, such as flares or reflective triangle
  • Small bag of abrasive material, such as sand or cat litter
  • Cloth or a roll of paper towels
  • Small shovel
  • Cell phone
  • Can of de-icer
  • Ice scraper

Inclement Weather Driving Tips:

Be Mentally Prepared For Inclement Weather:

  • Leave earlier for your destination
  • Use main roads or arteries whenever possible
  • Use your knowledge of the area to your advantage
  • Expect traffic to travel at a slower pace

Visibility Is The Key:

  • Clear off snow and ice from your vehicle before starting out
  • At intersections, pull up farther to increase visibility
  • Switch headlights on low beam to avoid glare

Skidding:

  • Avoid using cruise control in wet weather driving conditions
  • Look farther ahead and pay particular attention to "hot spots": bridges, culverts, on and off ramps and elevated highways. Be alert for "Black Ice."
  • Avoid unusual driving maneuvers that could induce a skid
  • If you find yourself beginning to skid, ease up on the accelerator, keep a firm grip on the wheel, and steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

Increase Your Following Distance:

  • Slow down and increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you
  • Add more space as conditions worsen
  • Don't be afraid to shift into a lower gear to reduce speed
  • Observe other vehicles to determine existing road conditions

Remain Calm:

  • Don't let your emotions affect your driving
  • Realize that traffic moves at a slower pace during inclement weather

Common Sense Is The Key:

  • Ask yourself the following questions
  • Is this trip really necessary?
  • Is my vehicle ready for this trip?
  • Am I mentally and physically prepared to make this trip?

Your Inclement Weather Driving Vehicle Maintenance Checklist:

Battery:

  • Recharge or replace weak batteries
  • Check fluid levels, battery posts, voltage regulator and alternator

Windshield Wipers And Washers:

  • Wiper blades should be replaced at least every six months
  • Replace wiper blades if they are cracked or do not clear windshield properly
  • Fill washer reservoir with high quality washer solution

Lights:

  • Check for cracked lenses and for proper operation

Brakes:

  • Check for smooth and consistent stopping

Tires:

  • If your tires need replacing, consider purchasing new tires prior to the winter season
  • Maximum inflation improves vehicle control
  • Sufficient tire tread allows water to escape and prevents hydroplaning

Heating System:

  • Check radiator hoses for cracks and leaks
  • Check fan belts for cracks and wear
  • Test defroster, heater and rear window defogger for proper operation

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