When the weather gets frightful, particularly in the Northeast, it’s best to avoid driving if possible.
But for those who need to get behind the wheel, AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration each provide lists of tips to stay safe.
Some are pretty obvious (“Always look and steer where you go;” wear your seatbelt), but others are more useful.
Here’s what you need to know before driving in winter weather.
- Fill your windshield wiper fluid reservoir, it can go quickly in snowy conditions. Keep an extra supply in the car.
- Electric vehicle batteries lose power more quickly in the cold, so be sure they are fully charged before heading out.
- Keep extra distance between yourself and other cars, to account for slow braking. With antilock brakes, apply steady pressure. With non-antilock brakes, gently pump the brakes.
- In the event of a skid, ease off the gas, do not brake (until the car is under control), and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
- Keep abrasive material (like sand) in the car, to use for extra traction if the car gets stuck.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full, to avoid gas line freeze up (when moisture in the air in the tank freezes, clogging the line).
- Properly inflate your tires.
- If stranded, tie a brightly coloured cloth to your car’s antenna or in the window, to alert rescuers. In the dark, keep the dome light on, if possible.
- Accelerate slowly, to improve traction.
- Avoid stopping fully, and do not stop when driving uphill.
[An earlier version of this article was written by Alex Davies.]
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