It’s that time of year again when snow makes Christmas magical but driving dangerous. Even if you don’t live in a snowfall area, wintery conditions like rain, sleet, and gusting wind also make the roads more precarious. To stay safe, follow our 2022 winter driving guide.
Prep Your Car for Winter
We always advise preparing your car ahead of winter, especially if you live in an area that experiences frigid weather.
Check tires. Worn tires don’t grip wet roads well. If you live in an icy or snowy area, switch to winter tires. Check that your tires are not underinflated and keep a regular check on tire pressure all through winter. Cold weather reduces tire pressure faster than warm weather.
Replace the coolant. Coolant (antifreeze) helps your engine to perform at an optimal level during winter. Flush out the radiator and refill with fresh coolant.
Replace worn wiper blades. Visibility is crucial when driving in winter, so replace old or damaged wiper blades.
Check that the defroster works. It’s been a year since you used it, so check if it is still in good working condition.
Change the oil. In winter, the cold temperature makes it harder for thick oil to flow through the engine. You may need to switch to a lower viscosity oil.
Winter Driving Guide: 5 Essential Winter Driving Tips
1. Keep the Gas Topped Up
The last thing you want is to run out of gas during a severe storm. If you drive an electric vehicle, make sure you recharge the battery regularly.
2. Slow Down
It’s more important than ever to drive at a slower speed in winter and maintain a safe driving distance. Remember, it takes longer for a vehicle to come to a stop on wet or icy roads.
3. Do Not Use Cruise Control on Wet or Icy Roads
Cruise control can be dangerous on wet or icy roads. If your tires start to lose traction, the cruise control is likely to continue accelerating, and that could send your car into a spin. By the time you react, it will be too late to stop it.
4. Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Car
Be prepared for a breakdown by stocking an emergency kit with:
First aid kit
Water and snacks
Warm clothing like hand gloves and a woolen cap
Extra phone charger or power bank (make sure it’s charged)
Cat litter. If you’re stuck in snow or mud, non-clumping cat litter can be used to help your tires gain some traction to get you out.
How to handle hazardous situations
Despite your best efforts at driving safely during winter, hazards are all around and you could find yourself in trouble on the roads. Here’s how to handle some of the scariest road situations.
Black ice is a thin layer of ice that forms on the road surface. It’s hard to spot because it makes the road look wet rather than icy. Keep your eyes peeled, especially when temperatures are around 32 degrees, which is when black ice typically forms. It also tends to form at night or in the early morning, so try avoiding driving during those hours.
Handling a Skid
When your car goes into a spin, it’s a frightening experience. Many people panic, slam the brakes and try to steer in the opposite direction. This only makes the situation worse.
Here’s what you should do instead.
Lift your foot off the accelerator and try to keep the steering straight. When the car starts slowing, gently pump the brakes to bring it under control.
Danger from Other Drivers
One thing you can't control is other drivers. So, be vigilant. Avoid distractions and be aware of your surroundings so you can react to a sudden threat. Consider taking a defensive driving course that will equip you with advanced driving skills to help you spot potential hazards and avoid accidents.
Lastly, prevention is better than cure. If the weather predicts inclement weather, rather stay home if you can.