Driving in winter can be challenging, as the roads are often slick and visibility can be poor.
As George Herbert said, “Every mile is two in winter,” therefore, driving becomes hectic during this season, being almost officially here in the U.S.
Here are some common winter driving mistakes you should be aware of:
Most Common Winter Driving Mistakes
1. Failing to clear snow and ice from the car
It’s important to clear all snow and ice from the roof, hood, and windows of your car before driving. Not only does this improve visibility, but it also prevents the snow and ice from falling onto the car’s windshield behind you and obstructing their view.
2. Not using winter tires
Winter tires are specifically designed for use in cold and snowy conditions. They have a special tread pattern and are made of a softer rubber compound that provides better traction on slippery roads. If you live in an area with severe winter weather, it’s a good idea to invest in winter tires.
3. Neglecting to check the weather forecast
Before setting out on a winter drive, it’s important to check the weather forecast and plan your route accordingly. Avoid driving in severe storms if possible, and be prepared for delays if you must travel.
If the weather doesn’t look favorable, you can stay home that day and consider traveling another time.
4. Not allowing enough time to warm up the car
It can take longer for a car to warm up in cold weather. Be sure to give the car enough time to warm up before setting out, especially if you’re driving long distances. This will help to ensure that the car’s systems are functioning properly and that you’ll be comfortable during your trip.
5. Not using enough antifreeze
Antifreeze helps to prevent the water in your car’s cooling system from freezing in cold weather. Be sure to check the antifreeze level in your car regularly and top it up if necessary.
6. Not using low gears when driving uphill
In winter, it’s important to use lower gear when driving uphill. This helps to provide extra traction and prevent the wheels from spinning.
7. Not using the brakes correctly
In winter, it’s important to use the brakes gently to avoid skidding. If you need to stop quickly, pump the brakes gently to slow the car down gradually.
8. Not leaving enough distance between cars
It’s important to leave a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you in winter. This gives you extra time to react if the car ahead of you loses control or if you need to stop suddenly.
9. Not carrying a winter emergency kit
It’s a good idea to keep a winter emergency kit in your car if you get stranded in cold weather. This should include a blanket, warm clothes, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and other supplies.
10. Not preparing their vehicle
It’s important to make sure your vehicle is in good condition before hitting the road in the winter. This includes checking the brakes, tires, lights, and windshield wipers. It’s also a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent the fuel line from freezing.
11. Not adjusting their driving style
Winter weather requires drivers to adjust their driving style to accommodate slippery roads and reduced visibility. This includes driving at slower speeds, increasing following distances, and being more cautious when braking and turning.
12. Not using their headlights
Low visibility is a common issue during winter, so it’s important to turn on your headlights to increase your visibility to other drivers. Using your hazard lights when driving in adverse weather conditions is also a good idea.
13. Not using their turn signals
Proper use of turn signals is important at all times, but it’s especially crucial during the winter when visibility is reduced. Make sure to use your turn signals when changing lanes or turning to alert other drivers of your intentions.
14. Not paying attention to road conditions
It’s important to constantly be aware of the road conditions and adjust your driving accordingly. This includes looking out for black ice, which is a thin, transparent layer of ice that can be difficult to see.
15. Not staying alert
Winter driving can be tiring, especially if you’re driving long distances. It’s important to stay alert and take breaks if necessary to avoid fatigue. Fatigue can impair your judgment and increase the risk of accidents.
16. Not slowing down
Speeding is one of the most common winter driving mistakes. Winter roads can be slippery and unpredictable, so it’s important to slow down and allow for extra braking distance. Speeding can increase the risk of accidents, especially on slippery roads.
That warm heavy coat being all cozy and toasty during this cold season is not a good idea while driving. Those winter outfits are comfy, but they are a liability while driving. Below is a brief explanation of how different attire could affect your driving.
- Winter Boots: As wide as they can be on your foot to easily move on and off the pedals, big boots, when worn, make it hard to feel the response from your brake, gas pedal, and clutch. Not to mention how they can slide off the pedals because they are wet from walking in the snow.
- Hats: They restrict and limit your visibility.
- Gloves: They can be hazardous on the wheel since they get slippery. Your best option is to use the heater and set warmers to get you warm.
- Heavy coats: Looking over your shoulder may be limited by those heavy, bulky coats, which makes the harness of your seat too loose to provide safety.
18. Ignoring your tailpipe
Before driving off on a snowy day, checking your car’s tailpipe is important to ensure that no ice, snow, or other dirt has clogged. Clogging of your car’s exhaust can lead to the leaking of toxic carbon monoxide through the cabin.
With the cabin enclosed to retain the interior car’s heat, this odorless gas can harm people inhaling it. If stuck in the snow, opening the window a little while waiting for help is vital for your health.
The exhaust system can be damaged while driving along icy berms. Therefore periodically checking your tailpipe is vital while driving during this season.
By avoiding these common winter driving mistakes, you can stay safe while driving in winter. Remember to take it slow, be prepared, and stay alert to the changing road conditions. Consider taking driving lessons to help you learn how to drive in different conditions safely.