As of mid-December, Des Moines had only received about three inches of snow. As of this writing, the forecast wasn’t promising for having a white Christmas. But we all know that slick roads and decreased visibility are likely sooner rather than later, as our average snowfall is about three feet each winter. Keeping yourself and others safe depends on knowing how to handle winter driving hazards. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when the cold and snow arrive.
Driving in cold weather
First, if you want your vehicle nice and toasty before hitting the road, never warm it up in an enclosed space, such as a garage. It should be automatic to have a winter cold-weather kit for your car, including warm clothing, food and water, medications, flashlights, blankets and other essentials. Check your tires to ensure your tread depth is acceptable for driving on snow and ice. Keep your gas tank at least half-full at all times.
Driving in the snow
If weather experts predict dangerous travel conditions, plan to stay home. Taking unnecessary risks is never a good idea, even for the most seasoned driver. Slow down if you do venture out during snow events or on icy roads. Remember to be deliberate when speeding up or slowing to a stop for traffic lights or stop signs. Increase your following distance behind other vehicles to five or six seconds.
Driving long distances
If you plan to drive a significant distance to see relatives or friends, always check the weather along the route before leaving so you know what to expect. If your car is older, have it checked out by a qualified mechanic to make sure your engine, tires and other systems are in good working order. Notify others of your travel plans and keep in contact to let them know of your progress. If you encounter a storm and get stranded, AAA says the best advice is to stay with your vehicle as it is likely the best shelter and makes it easier for emergency responders to find you. If you are stuck, make sure your exhaust pipe remains free of snow to avoid deadly carbon monoxide gas from building up.
What is your car’s best safety feature?
Despite all the hi-tech gadgets in today’s newer vehicles designed to keep you safe, you remain the most important safety feature. These and other precautions are the best way to protect you and your family during dangerous driving conditions.