Monday, February 1, 2016

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Driving in hazardous conditions that many parts of the country experience during the winter months is especially challenging. With the possibility of rain, freezing rain, wind, fog, ice, snow or even worse, combinations of those elements, drivers, especially those towing utility trailers-must be prepared for anything!

Please review the following scenarios and their solutions:

  • Limited or reduced visibility: When it is possible pull off the road to a safe place, well off the shoulder and stop. Turn on your hazard lights to remain visible.
  • Limited or reduced traction: Slow down and make all movements gentle ones - never drive faster than conditions allow.
  • Need to brake on slick road: Brake gently to avoid skidding. Should you begin to skid, take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, quickly. Next, steer in the direction you want your car to go. Before the rear wheels stop skidding, shift to drive and gently press the accelerator and never aggressively slam on the brakes.

Driving a vehicle in bad winter weather conditions is more difficult than driving when the roads are clear and it’s sunny outside. Driving a vehicle with a cargo trailer is even more of a challenge! Please review the following common sense suggestions before getting on the road in the first place:

  • Check weather forecasts and possible construction areas along the planned route. Also plan fuel and meal stop locations, and be sure to allow extra time for traffic delays
  • Make sure that the tires on your vehicle are fully inflated, as well as the tires on your cargo trailer.
  • Before getting on the road, check to ensure that your trailer load is packed so that the weight is distributed evenly.
  • Give yourself plenty of braking distance between your vehicle and the ones in front of you by doubling or tripling the distance. Stopping on icy roads requires more time, control and distance. Of course towing a cargo trailer makes it even more difficult.
  • Familiarize yourself with the hazards of black ice: 
  • Use your lights when precipitation is falling or visibility is poor.
  • Pay attention to melting or hard-packed snow and strong side winds.
  • Check for ice accumulation by feeling the back of your rear view mirror and noticing the spray off tires - you should be able to see if it is frozen.
  • Do not use the cruise control setting in bad weather.
  • Proceed with extreme caution on bridges and overpasses. They are often the most dangerous in the winter since they freeze before roadways.
  • Wear the proper attire such as warm clothing and footwear that has traction. Slick-bottomed soles such as those on cowboy boots are very dangerous. Also, have heavy-duty items such as thick gloves, a warm coat and hat in case you encounter mechanical failure and have to exit the vehicle.
  • Of course never get behind the wheel when you are tired and always wear your seat belt.

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