Recently, police in British Columbia pulled over a man who was not speeding, not exhibiting signs of intoxication, and obeying all traffic laws. Why was he formally escorted to the shoulder? His entire car—save a small tea-cup-sized circle on his windshield—was completely covered in ice and snow. If you’re looking at a picture, it’s a little funny. If you’re driving next to him, it’s not.
Winter poses all sorts of dangers (and apparently brings out the reckless drivers). Below are a few winter do’s and don’ts to keep you—and everyone around you—safe this season.
The Don’ts of Winter Driving
Unless you were a sailor in the 1700s on a man-of-war, there’s no reason to try to view the entire ocean through a tiny porthole, yet this is the scenario we create when we try to drive down the highway using only the porthole window cleared by the defroster after twenty minutes. This is certainly a don’t. You should wait for your entire window to clear before driving, as well as your side mirrors and side windows. Here are a few more winter don’ts:
- Don’t drive frustrated or fatigued. Sure, the holidays are warm and bright, but that doesn’t always cut out the stress, nor does it give you back those hours of sleep you spent shopping or wassailing. If you’re tired or feeling the push from holiday pressure, wait to drive or call a ride.
- Don’t start your car in a closed garage. This leads to monoxide poisoning, which leads to death. Please don’t think this is too obvious to mention. Many people who “just want to get the car warm for a few minutes” before venturing into the winter holocaust never venture anywhere again. It’s tragic, but completely avoidable. First, open your garage door, then back out. This alone will warm up your car!
- Don’t stop if you don’t need to. Remember that guy who said, “an object in motion tends to stay in motion”? Who was that—Isaac Newton? Fig Newton? Whoever he was, he said it right, and it comes back to us from high school physics class in all too real a way on winter roads. Never stop on a hill, and try to brake at lights in enough time to keep your car moving slightly forward until the light changes. This is because it is difficult to get a car rolling again on slick winter roads, and this can cause accidents and pile-ups since people will then have to brake quickly (risking spin out in icy conditions) to avoid you as you try to get the car moving again.
- Don’t accelerate and decelerate quickly. Sudden starts and stops will cause handling problems, especially in ice and snow, as you know. Maintain a consistent speed for best traction.
- Don’t use cruise control. While we do recommend maintaining consistent speed, icy roads are no place to use cruise control because they remove your ability to respond to hazardous road conditions. When you slide on ice, your car will carry its speed into and out of your slide, and that could spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.
The Do’s of Winter Driving
Enough of the negative. We get that there’s a lot of stuff you shouldn’t do, but what about the stuff you should? Here are some winter do’s.
- Do keep de-icer or an ice scraper in your car, along with an emergency medical kit, warm clothes (hat, gloves, jacket), a blanket, a charged cell phone, and charger.
- Do keep your gas tank at least half filled. If you’re stuck in the ice, you will need gas to get unstuck and to run your heater until help comes!
- Do winterize your car before winter weather hits, and get your car inspected to determine needed repairs and replacements. Make sure your tires are dressed for the season!
- Do count your blessings daily. This will combat the stress, fatigue, and chill of those long, dark winter drives!
Now, get out there and make some holiday memories with family and friends with confidence that you can keep them safe on the drive!
- Published in Driving Conditions
We know the real reason for the season, and we’re sure you do, too. (If you don’t, we pray you’re saved from an Ebenezer-Scrooge-style wake-up call.)
What we’re not so sure about it how aware people are of the need for extra precaution while driving during the winter months. There are many reasons that attentive defensive driving is needed during the winter months, including the fact that:
- Holiday travelers make roads much more heavily trafficked
- The winter months have shorter, darker days, making for more night-time driving
- There’s an increase in pedestrian traffic as well as road traffic
- Festivities unfortunately sometimes include excessive consumption, which means you’re more likely to share the road with inebriated or fatigued drivers—or simply travelers frustrated by travel or by being lost in a new location
- Winter weather conditions make road travel dangerous
You can probably think of many more reasons to drive safely this winter. We’d like for you to have fun, make memories with your loved ones, and celebrate the spirit of compassion and giving that pervades the holidays. The best way to do that is to stay safe while traveling this winter. Below are some tips for getting safely to your destination so you can start making those precious memories!
Tips for Winter Travel
- Fight holiday stress with positive thinking. We don’t want to sound corny or pushy, but the winter season is traditionally a time of selflessness, compassion, and a celebrate of faith, hearth, and home. Counting your blessings does more than warm your heart; it can also prevent holiday stress that translated into risky driving and road rage. If you feel angry or frustrated on the road, take time to contemplate what’s important to you this winter!
- Prepare your car for winter travel. Winterize your car by making sure it’s in excellent repair with tires appropriate for the season. If you need tire chains, procure and install them before long trips.
- Stay alert on the road! Much holiday traveling is done at night. If you’re too tired on the road, pull over and find accommodations to dream of sugarplum fairies before hitting the road again. Also, drive with family or friends when possible. You can spot each other’s driving and make holiday memories while you’re at it!
- Watch your consumption this holiday. It is our recommendation that you always have fun you can remember. If you begin to grow dizzy, fuzzy, or tired, stop drinking. If you plan to drink any amount of alcohol, know your limits and designate a ride or another driver. NEVER DRIVE BUZZED OR DRUNK. You put yourself and others in danger, and we don’t want anyone, including yourself, to spend the holidays with injuries or death to deal with.
- Plan your route ahead of time. If you know you’ll be traveling, plan a route complete with stops before you go. This will hopefully minimize the frustration of holiday traffic and stress.
- Obey all road signs and traffic signals. Drive defensively and be alert for drivers who won’t be as alert as you!
- Watch for more pedestrian traffic than usual, and especially watch for holiday shoppers to be where they shouldn’t… often in the road! Drive slower than usual through cities and suburbs.
We hope that, whether around a tree or out on the road, you will truly enjoy this season!
- Published in Driving Dangers
With projected high temperatures near 90° this week, it is odd to sit here on an early October afternoon in Texas writing this blog post. However, I have survived enough Octobers to know that, climate change or not; it will be winter somewhere in America sooner rather than later. I also understand that wintertime driving poses challenges and that’s why you need the best tires for wintertime driving.
Whether the Weather Be Cold…
I will admit that my thoughts toward changing temperatures never extend much beyond my wardrobe. Remember that not just personal comfort is affected by temperature variation. When it comes to tires, what is appropriate in one season is not necessarily applicable to all seasons. Snow tires provide improved traction in winter but will wear faster as the mercury rises. On the other hand, I tire designed to group well in hot, dry weather will land you in the ditch at the first sign of frozen precipitation.
If you live in a state that experiences a substantial amount of snow or ice, you may want to consider swapping to snow tires for the winter months. Snow tires feature a tread compound not found in all season tires. This compound allows the tires to remain flexible in colder weather, ensuring better traction. In extreme conditions, traction can be further enhanced with the addition of studs.
Are You a Stud Kind of Guy?
The proper response to the quandary “to stud or not to stud” comes down where and how you drive. Several studies have concluded that studded tires provide the best advantage on clear ice at temperatures near freezing. Conversely, stud-less tires deliver better handling and braking in subfreezing temperatures regardless of precipitation.
Beyond weather conditions, other factors must be considered before swapping to studded tires. Studded tires are noisier to operate than standard tires. Further, they offer less protection, wear out faster and can cause road damage if the roadway is merely wet and not frozen. Drivers should also consider the legality of their choice. Many states restrict the use of studded tires, both rubber and metal, and those without restriction on type have limits on when they can be employed.
If you live in an area with harsh winters, dedicated winter tires may be a necessary option. Another step worth considering would be the purchase of dedicated wheels for those tires. This one-time investment will eliminate the expense of mounting and balancing at the change of every season.
In Milder Winter Zones
If you reside in an area that only experiences the occasional deep freeze and winter storm, all-season tires might be an option. An all-season tire brings balance between temperature extremes. A true all-season tire will carry a mountain or snowflake symbol certifying that they meet the winter performance standards set by US and Canadian rubber manufacturers. While many tire makers offer what they call “all season” tires, without a symbol of certification, performance may be questionable.
Choosing the right tire is important as it comes down to a choice about your personal safety. Doing a little homework before things get nasty can save you time, effort, inconvenience and maybe even your life.
- Published in Vehicle