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Follow these winter driving safety tips
If you can’t stay at home during winter storms, at least try to not venture out until the snow plows have opened streets and roads. And be sure to allow extra time to get to your destination. For those who live in areas where winter driving can become hazardous, here are some tips to help you stay safe.
• Be sure your car is ready for winter. For details on preparing your vehicle, check www.cartalk.com/content/features/WinterDriving/.
• Check the forecast before leaving home. Being prepared is still the best policy.
• Slow down and allow plenty of stopping space – as much as three times the space you usually allow between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
• Know how your brakes will react in a skid – keep your foot steady on antilock brakes, but pump non-antilock brakes.
• Even a four-wheel or front-wheel drive vehicle may encounter winter driving difficulties. Always exercise care on snow and ice.
• Turn on your headlights to increase visibility.
• Keep headlights and windshield clean and free of snow.
• Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks – your visibility will be limited by the plow or truck, and the road ahead is likely in worse condition.
• Slow down when approaching bridges and overpasses, or roads that are not well-traveled. These areas frequently freeze first, especially in wet conditions.
• Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on slick highways.
• Keep an emergency kit in your car. Travel with your cell phone and include a flashlight, jumper cables, sand or kitty litter, a shovel, snow brush and ice scraper, flares and blankets. It’s also a good idea to include bottled water, medications and energy bars. For information on creating a kit, check at http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=8251.
• Buckle up. It’s the law, and wearing a seatbelt can be a life-saver in a crash.
• Let someone know your travel route, so that if you don’t arrive in a reasonable time, officials can search for you and your vehicle along that route.
• If your vehicle becomes stuck or is otherwise disabled, stay with it, running the engine and heater for short intervals. Be sure to crack a window open to allow fresh air in and avoid build up of carbon monoxide.