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Safe Winter Driving Tips

 Keeping You Safe this Winter

November 11th marked the first official snowfall of the season—like actually snow covering the roads and grass and the first official need of snow plows. And as we all know, there will be more snow from here on out through early March of 2020. So during these next few months of snow, ice and win, it is important to know how to stay safe while driving. Some people may think that you need a SUV or giant truck to get around, but that is simply not the case. I have been driving in the Erie winters for the past three years and I have a small hatchback of all things. Drivers just need to know a few tips to stay safe. 


First thing to know/do during this season is to take your car in to get inspected. You want to make sure that these things get checked immediately: tires (tread & pressure), oil, brakes, windshield wipers, headlights and turn signal lights, wiper fluid levels, coolant ratio, and the battery strength. All of these things can be checked at an auto care shop. When checking the tread on your tires, a great trick to know is the “Penny Test”.  If you stick a penny upside down in the tire’s grooves. If you cannot see Lincoln’s head then you are fine; if you can see Lincoln’s head, your tires are too worn. Also makes sure that when you are commuting to work or school, leave earlier than usual so you are not rushing in unsafe conditions. Increase the following distance between you and the car in front of you, especially if you have to come to a sudden stop. This can help to cut down on the possibility of a collision. Also, in this case it is important to know your brakes well, and downshift a gear if necessary And when you do brake, do not slam your foot down, instead apply pressure slowly and steadily; this will help out with sliding out of control.  


Visibility is another important thing to have during the winter season. It is important to make sure your windshield wipers are not leaving any streaks and that your headlights/turn signals are working properly. Also, in order to keep yourself and other drivers safe, make sure you give yourself enough time in the morning to clear your car of snow. You need to be able to see out of all of your windows and your side-view mirrors. Completely remove snow from the top of your car because the moment you start driving, the wind will cause the snow to fall and it could impair another driver’s vision and cause a dangerous situation. If your car is parked outside of your home, before you start the car to warm it up, make sure that your exhaust pipe is not blocked with snow or covered with snow. If it is blocked, it could cause deadly carbon monoxide to enter your vehicle. In case of emergencies, it is great to have a warm blanket, flashlights, jumper cables, flares and/or some type of emergency light. You can usually buy kits at any store with such items, minus the blanket. Also, if your car does not have a heated steering wheel, maybe invest in a steering wheel cover—this will help to keep it warm and therefore you would have a better grip on the wheel. And the next time you get your vehicle serviced, have them check the battery strength. If your battery is far into the yellow zone or in the red, the cold weather will make it increasingly more difficult to start your car. Another helpful tip, is to make sure your gas tank does not go below half a tank. If you ever happened to get stranded and have to wait for help, if you have at least half a tank, you could use that to keep yourself warm. Also, if the tank gets too low during the winter, it could make it possible for the fueling pump to start sucking in air. 


A lot can happen in split moment when driving during the winter. With hazards such as snow, ice, sleet, and strong winds, as a driver being as alert as possible is extremely important. Also it is important to know yourself—if you know that it is dangerous for you to drive under such conditions try carpooling and only leave home when it is absolutely necessary. Your safety is of the upmost importance.  


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