The Commuter Column: Driving Safe in Bad Weather

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Kathleen Joyce

This weekend’s freak-out snowstorm made me realize that I have done no preparation for winter at all. I had the snow brush in my car, but that’s about all.  I didn’t have a de-froster spray, and my car was still switched on air conditioning, not heat. But driving was worse; the roads were slippery and wet.  I’m pretty lucky. I survived out there, no dramatic sequence needed.  With more bad weather sure to come, what can we do, as drivers, to make driving in winter weather safe and bearable?

The most-needed piece of equipment for your car during the snow is a scraper/brush for your windshield.  This will always come in handy on those snowy days, unless there’s a foot of snow on your car.

Blankets are also essential.  I actually do keep a blanket in my car, just in case I’m freezing, or I’m wet from the rain so I can sit on it and warm up more easily. Along with the blanket, you should have an emergency car kit, which should include a flashlight, an emergency light flasher, a tire pressure meter, and a first-aid kit. If you can’t drive for any reason during a snowstorm, this kit could come in handy. You can use the emergency light to let any passing emergency vehicle know that you need help. The first-aid kit can just come in handy for any emergency you may have at any time on the road.

It’s important to make sure that you have had your car’s brakes, battery, and oil checked before the winter even starts. Always check your gas meter to make sure that you have enough gas.  When driving while it is snowing, keep ample room between your car and the car in front of you, in case of any skidding. Drive slowly; driving fast could be the worst mistake you make. Speeding in icy conditions could cause you to lose control of your car, and then where would you be?

Keep your eyes on the road and pay attention to the cars around you and in front of you, because cars could skid right into you.  Be aware and take precautions when moving out of the way. When your car skids, don’t turn your wheel the other way, but turn it the way the skid is going. Accelerate the car; don’t stop.  Keep the car going.  When skidding occurs, stopping seems like a good idea, but stay calm and just keep going in the direction that your car is already going.

Many of us don’t feel comfortable driving in the snow.  If this is the case, stay indoors or if you really need to go out, have somebody drive you.  If you’re not familiar with driving in the snow and ice, just don’t do it or take it slowly. Living in New York, we all have to deal with the fact that it snows every winter and usually pretty heavily. I hope we don’t see more snow for another two or three months, but if that’s not the case, take these driving tips into account, and as always, safe driving to all!

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