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Navigating Hazardous Winter Roads

Posted on 01/31/19 by Andre Hidalgo, AARP Blog Author

Driving safely while driving on wet, icy or snowy roads isn’t easy for anyone. It requires preparation and concentration. Here are some basics to keep you safe when the roads in our community are not safe.

  • Do a Check. After three years, a battery might need replacing. Turn on the headlights, then start the engine. If the lights brighten when the engine is running, your battery is weak and likely ready for a replacement. Also, check that your windshield fluid and engine antifreeze levels are full. Check out how to fully winterize your car here
  • Be ready. Winter gear you should keep in your automobile includes battery jumper cables, a snow brush, an ice scraper, sand to put under slipping wheels if you’re stuck, a small shovel, a flashlight and batteries, a phone charger, drinking water and snacks. Keep plenty of gas in the tank in case you need to run the engine to stay warm. Check out more information on how to stock your car’s winter emergency kit here
  • Be seen. Keep your brake lights and turn signals as clean as possible, and remove any snow or ice. Use your headlights in daytime to make your vehicle stand out from the drab winter background. Have reflective triangles and/or a reflective vest to wear if you get stuck and need to exit the car for help.
  • Drive gently. Trying to start too quickly, even with all-wheel drive or traction control, can leave you stuck in place. Abruptly changing speeds — up or down — can cause the tires to slip and spin.
  • Avoid skids. If the back end of the car or truck begins to slide sideways on a slippery surface, turn the steering wheel the same direction as the back end is moving. If it’s dancing out to the left, turn the wheel to the left; if right, turn right. Otherwise you’ll turn the skid into a spin. Antiskid control, common on most cars, helps, but it can’t prevent all slick-road skids.
  • Staying Warm. Blankets can warm you if you’re stranded. If you keep the engine running to stay warm, open a couple of windows for fresh air in case there’s a dangerous exhaust-system leak that could seep into the car’s interior.

Check out more AARP driver safety tips and courses that can help you drive in winter and summer (and perhaps save money on insurance).

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