Drive with Care in the Winter!

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Winter is here and your trusty “sleigh” needs a little extra attention! Here are a few things to keep in mind before you head out to “Grandma’s House”.

Visibility is critical at any time of year, but particularly when you may not be able to stop as quickly as usual. Always allow a few extra minutes to clear your windows and rearview mirrors of frost or snow, and to allow the defroster to warm up before heading onto the road. “Peephole” driving is dangerous for you and the cars around you, and it is illegal!

Check your headlights – be sure your headlights are working. Be aware that headlight lenses can become cloudy and scratched– Headlight Polishing can restore visual clarity and improve the amount of light that shines through and onto the driving surface in front of you.

Brake lights, tail lights and turn signals are especially important when you are trying to convey your intentions to your fellow travelers. Remember, they may not be as responsible as you and failed to clean their windows.

Check your windshield wipers to be sure that they are doing their job. Cracked or dried out wipers will not clean your windshield adequately, and you may miss that car pulling out from the side street or the brake lights ahead of you. Replacing your windshield wipers is inexpensive insurance that may prevent that accident. And check your windshield wiper fluid level – back splash from sloppy roads can obliterate your visibility very quickly.

Have plenty of traction! New car tires usually have 10/32” deep tread, and winter driving requires at least 50% of that for adequate traction. Either change out summer tires to snow tires, or be sure your all-weather tires have enough tread to insure proper traction.

Decrease speed relative to road conditions, and allow plenty of extra room between you and the car in front of you. Having a four-wheel drive vehicle will not help you stop more quickly, so do not make the mistake of thinking you can stop if that person in front of you has to make an emergency stop, or cannot get traction in the snow and ice. Check the road by gently tapping on the brakes at a low speed when no other traffic is near to see if you will be able to stop when necessary.

Maintain at least a half tank of gas in your car, so you don’t run out if you are stranded or stuck in traffic. Travel time often takes longer in winter conditions and will take even more time with increased holiday travel.

A few emergency items stored in your car may mean the difference between an inconvenient stop or a catastrophe when you are stranded or stalled. Here is a short checklist to keep in your car: ice scraper, shovel, extra blanket, warm clothing, candle/matches, flashlight & batteries, jumper cables, snacks, bag of sand for extra traction, whistle, mirror, and a charged cell phone.

Drive defensively — look ahead at the conditions and BE PREPARED. Wishing you all safe holiday travel, and a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas!

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