When driving on cold winter roads, being prepared for the worst is as important as ever. Emergency preparations should include a well-stocked driving safety kit as well as pre-season planning and a review of good winter-driving habits. This discussion explains what items you should include in your safety kit and how to brush up on safe-driving techniques that will keep you safe and avoid a car accident this winter.
Emergency Kit Essentials
A driver’s safety kit can come in handy at any time of year, but stocking your vehicle with certain tools and cold-weather rescue items might make all the difference if you find yourself on the side of a wintery road.
Some of winter items to keep on hand include:
- An ice scraper/snow brush to remove ice and snow from your car before driving.
- A snow shovel to dig out a path if your vehicle becomes stuck in the snow.
- A blanket or hand warmers can be used to keep warm if you find yourself waiting for help to arrive.
- Winter gloves and a warm hat can keep you warm while you dig yourself out of the snow; having boots on hand is also useful. Likewise, a poncho can protect you from wet weather.
- Sand or kitty litter can be used for traction if your tires are unable to grip the snowy or icy road surface.
Other year-round car safety essentials include the following:
- A spare tire, car jack, and lug wrench to deal with a flat or blown tire that needs replacing.
- Jumper cables to boost your car’s battery to get it going again.
- Road flares, reflective warning triangles, and a reflective safety vest to ensure that you remain visible to other drivers.
- Tow rope to be used if your car needs to be pulled out of an embankment or snow mound.
- A distress flag to signal that you need help.
- Simple tools such as a wrench, pair of pliers, ratchet set, screwdrivers, and duct tape. You should also have scissors and string as well as a multi-tool and utility knife.
- A flashlight and batteries may become necessary.
- A first-aid kit can help with any minor injuries. It should include adhesive bandages, medical wrap, gauze, tape, and antiseptic wipes.
- If you get stranded for a long period, you will be happy to have small snacks and some bottled water. Snacks that are best for this purpose include granola bars, raisins and dried fruit, nuts, and hard candy, which hold up over long periods.
- A fully charged cell phone can be indispensable in an emergency. Having a portable charger is a good idea. In case cell service is unavailable, some low-tech supplies such as a compass and a stash of paper maps may save the day.
To be ready for winter, a vehicle should be taken to a professional for a thorough tune-up. The safety inspection should include a good look at the vehicle’s tires. Tires should not be worn down. This can be assessed by checking the tires’ tread. Tires should also be inflated properly. Cold weather reduces air pressure, which may require adding air to the tires to ensure they are able to grip the roads well. Some areas may call for switching to specialized winter tires, but in most areas checking and possibly rotating your tires will suffice.
Winter Driving Tips
Driving safely in winter conditions comes down to knowing how to maintain control on slippery roads, how to get your car out of snow or ice, and what to do if you are stranded when it is cold.
To maintain control on slippery roads, you should proceed slowly. Do not rely on cruise control in wintery weather. Keep your distance from the car in front of you to allow for maximum stopping time. And if you feel your vehicle slipping on an ice patch, refrain from slamming on the brakes. Instead, turn your steering wheel in the direction your car is sliding and hold on until you regain control. If you are moving slowly and keeping away from other vehicles, people, and obstacles, you have a better chance of coasting safely until you can recover the car’s handling.
To free your car from a snowy pile or icy surface, you will need to shovel out around the vehicle and find a way to create traction between your tires and the road. Scattering road salt, sand, or kitty litter can allow for better tire grip. Try not to spin your tires, as that may cause the car to become even more stuck.
To stay safe while waiting for help in winter, it is helpful to have a full tank of gas. This can provide plenty of fuel for the car’s heater while you are stranded. Be sure that the car’s exhaust pipe is not obstructed with snow or any other object, as this could cause poisonous carbon monoxide to build up inside the car.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to stay safe in winter is to avoid unnecessary driving when dangerous weather threatens. If you must travel, share your travel plans with a friend or family member, including your planned route and the estimated time you expect to reach your destination. That way, if you get stuck or break down, someone will know to come look for you and what roads should be checked.
Middletown Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Help People Hurt in Winter Collisions
If you were injured in a serious winter car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, reach out to the Middletown car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova. We can help you understand how you can seek fair compensation from the at-fault party who caused your accident. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.