The holidays are right around the corner, and for many of us that may mean a lot of time on the road visiting friends, family and loved ones. As much as we all enjoy celebrating in the festivities, making sure that you get safely to and from your destination is key. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), just about 500,000 crashes occur in wintry conditions every year, and more than 116,800 people are injured in these crashes. We’ve put together a list of ways to keep yourself and any passengers in your car safe as you prepare to embark on your holiday travels.
- Prepare A Winter Survival Kit: Every car should have a basic first aid kit ready and waiting in case of an emergency, but there are few additional pieces of safety gear you should carry around when conditions are less than ideal. Your gear should include salt / sand, jumper cables, water, non-perishable food like energy bars and trail mix, reflective triangles, a safety emergency blanket, a flashlight and an ice scraper.
- Keep Your Eye on the Forecast: No matter the length of your journey, make sure to look at your local weather forecast to make sure that you won’t be trapped in a monstrous blizzard. This is especially important when you’re making a long journey or plan on staying at your destination for any length of time. It’s always better to reschedule plans rather than brave a storm.
- Don’t Drink and Drive: This piece of advice is important no matter the weather, but it becomes even more so when the roads have the chance to be covered in ice and slush. No matter how tempting the eggnog may be, a moment of enjoyment is never worth the potential for a serious accident.
- Slow Down: Other than laying off the alcohol, slowing down may be the most important thing you can do in wintry conditions. The FHA recommends what you decrease your speed anywhere from 3 to 13 percent in light snow, and recommends that you ease your speed anywhere from 5 to 40 percent in heavy snow. No matter what, always err on the side of caution in poor driving conditions.
- Make Sure Your Tires Are Inflated: If you haven’t taken a look at your tire pressure since the leaves started changing color, there’s a good chance they’re underinflated. Keeping them properly inflated will help them last longer and give you more grip on the road – something that’s in short supply in the winter.
- Keep Your Gas Tank Filled: Keeping your gas tank at least half filled at all times will give you some peace of mind if you’re ever trapped in your car in the middle of a blizzard. If you ever find yourself in this type of situation, your best course of action is to let your car run for about 10 minutes every hour to keep everyone inside warm and to prevent its mechanical components from freezing. If this happens to you, just make sure to check your tailpipe before turning it on to make sure it isn’t blocked with any debris or snow.