The holidays can be a stressful time. Even if you’re not dreading the arrival of in-laws or that one weird cousin in anticipation of a National Lampoon-esque season, there are a few other conditions that can put a damper on your holiday. Number one, winter. Winter is cold. Winter is icy. Number two, trying to travel in said cold and icy winter.
We don’t want to see anyone fall prey to the unique winter road conditions, so we’re here to give you a few helpful travel safety tips to ensure your plans go off without a hitch. After all, the key to travel safety is being prepared!
Winter Driving Safety Tips
Never driven in snow before? It’s okay, don’t panic. The main thing you need to remember is exactly what grizzled snow-driving veterans need to remember: Go slow — but not too slow. You still need momentum so you don’t get stuck! The faster you are going, the longer and more dangerous making a stop will be. Remember to brake slowly and to never slam on your brakes. Don’t use cruise control or make any sudden movements. Merge slowly and carefully, and pay close attention to what’s going on in front of you.
Black ice is sneaky. Unlike wholesome and honest regular ice, black ice can’t be seen. Because it is almost transparent, it can look just like regular pavement when you’re driving. Be especially careful around intersections, off-ramps, shaded areas and bridges were black ice is likely to lurk. Pay special attention to sections of the road that appear extra glossy.
Again, go slow. Nice and steady and slow. If you can’t see well, there could be hazards hidden along your path that you don’t stand a chance of avoiding. Be attentive and eliminate distractions like music or talk radio until it clears up (you don’t want to compromise your focus).
Time is the ultimate enemy. And by that, we mean leave plenty of time — extra time, even — to get to your destination. Don’t put you or your passengers at risk by speeding just to make it to a holiday get-together. Trust us, it’s better to be safe and a little late than to be really late because of an accident.
Winter Safety Kit
Even if you don’t anticipate getting stuck — and really, who does? — it’s smart to keep a kit of winter-specific items. Keep ice scrapers and brushes, blankets, bottled water, snacks, a cell phone, kitty litter (for traction!), a flashlight , candle, portable radio, a can of lock de-icer and even a favorite book in your vehicle.
Maybe nasty ol’ black ice snuck up you after all. You find yourself out of control and skidding across the ice to a place you’d really prefer not to be (in a ditch, for example). Whatever you do, don’t brake. Take your foot off the gas pedal, and gently turn your steering wheel in the direction you feel the car skidding. Turning in the opposite direction can make your car spin out of control.
With any lucky, you are prepared with a winter safety kit. Even if you don’t have one, do not get out of your vehicle in bad conditions. Do, however, make sure your tailpipe hasn’t been obstructed — you don’t want carbon monoxide building up in your vehicle. Try to stay put and keep warm while you wait for help.
Wintertime travel can be stressful, but it can also be a lot of fun when you’re prepared to handle its unique challenges with your mind on travel safety. Enjoy the journey!
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