Make sure to stay safe on the roads when you are travelling in inclement weather.
Driving in northern Illinois is often not the easiest thing to do. Summers are brutally hot and the spring and fall often feature plenty of rain. The wintertime, though, is the most dangerous time of year to hit the roads. Snow, sleet and ice can make driving difficult and freezing temperatures can make it dangerous if your car breaks down.
It’s always important to keep safety as the first priority when the temperature drops. According to SafeWinterRoads.org, every year in the United States there are over 1,300 roadway deaths related to poor driving conditions due to inclement weather. Over 100,000 are injured annually in the same types of situations. For all drivers, safety should be of utmost importance during the winter months in a state like Illinois.
Our friends at AAA came up with some great winter driving tips. Here are some simple ways to stay safe when you’re driving around in the sleet and snow. They may seem obvious, but try to consciously think about them next time you take your car out this winter:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly; it takes longer to slow down on icy roads, and accelerating slowly will give you better traction in the snow and ice.
- Don’t stop going up a hill; if you do, it will be very difficult to get to the top. Get some inertia going as you approach the hill and keep a steady speed as you approach the top of the hill. This will save you a headache of getting stuck or sliding backwards.
- Drive slower than you are used to; remember, nothing is worth as much as your (and others’) safety and well-being. It’s okay to be 10 minutes late to your event if road conditions are bad.
- Make sure you exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow or ice; this can cause carbon monoxide to leak into the cabin of the vehicle, which can be deadly to the driver and passengers. The same rule applies for warming up your car — never do it in an enclosed garage.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving on a slippery surface; it is much safer to keep speeds low and allow yourself more ability to adjust speed and acceleration on surfaces with snow or ice.
- Don’t drive fatigued; this can be said of almost any driving situation, regardless of weather. In the wintertime, however, you are particularly at-risk for an accident or mishap if your reactions on the road are not quick. Being well-rested is the best way to prevent this.
- Always be sure to have at least half a tank of gas in your car; this serves two purposes: first, it prevents the gas line from freezing up. Secondly, if you ever find yourself stuck in the snow or otherwise unable to move your car, you can keep your car heated until assistance arrives.
- Pack emergency supplies in your car; make sure to keep your cell phone, emergency towing/roadside assistance phone numbers, gloves, a winter hat, blankets, bottled water and even snacks in the extreme case that you are stranded in the car for an extended period of time.
- If you don’t have to drive, don’t; in inclement weather, especially when going long distances, it is always better to stay home if possible.
For a full list of these helpful winter driving tips, visit AAA’s website.
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