In the winter months, everything from limited visibility to snow, black ice, snow, ice, freezing rain, and fog can make road conditions dangerous. Our Three P’s of Winter Driving guide is designed to help you prepare your vehicle, prevent incidents with safe driving techniques, and protect yourself and your family. Learn more about how to stay safe on the roads, no matter what weather conditions may send your way.
Winter Driving Guide
- Make sure that you check your tires, as the tread will directly affect whether you stay secure on the road.
- Check your battery. Call AAA for a complimentary battery/ starting/ charging system check or ask a professional to check these systems.
- Take a look at your oil. Review your owner’s manual and verify the oil weight that was installed at your last oil change — and change it for the colder weather if needed.
- Check your coolant to make sure that you have optimum freeze and overhead protection. If anything looks amiss — take it to your repair professional before you have potentially major engine damage.
- Make sure your lights and wipers are fully operational! Winter weather causes lowered visibility, but a quick check of your wipers and lights enables you to see others and have others see you on the road.
- Check your drive system to make sure it is working correctly — and while you’re at it you should clean your undercarriage for road salt damage.
- Keep your fuel tank full. Not only does this give you a reserve should you become stranded, but water can accumulate in your tank with lower temperatures, which can lead to corrosion.
- Check your door locks and latches to avoid freezing.
- Most importantly, always travel with an emergency kit in your vehicle.
- Find an empty lot during daylight hours and rehearse driving maneuvers slowly on snow and ice. Make sure that before starting you take the time to research the techniques you intend to practice. Ensure the area you intend to practice in is not being occupied by other people or vehicles, and that it is free of hazards. Also, if you’re on a private lot obtain permission from the owner.
- Steer into a skid and learn to regain control of your vehicle during a spin out.
- Learn how your vehicle reacts to different types of brake applications depending on the type of braking system in your vehicle.
- Learn how long it takes for your vehicle to stop from different speeds. Make sure you don’t go over the speed that would prevent the vehicle to come to a stop within the practice area.
- Avoid any type of driving — especially winter driving — when tired, upset, or preoccupied. Pull over and rest if you start to feel sleepy or switch drivers.
- Drugs and alcohol never mix with driving, especially at night and under severe conditions.
- Let someone know when and where you are going to when planning your trip especially if crossing less populated areas.
- Increase distance between you and the car in front.
- Slow down according to the weather conditions and not the posted speed limits.
- If the car behind is following too closely first try and pulse the brakes slightly to indicate that you do not intend to go faster. If the car does not back off, find a safe place to pull over and let any faster traffic go by before safely returning onto the road.
- Do not go faster than you can see. Make sure you can stop within the space that you can see in front of your vehicle. “Overrunning your lights” will cause you to hit whatever hides in the dark or fog in case of an emergency stop. Allow for extra braking distance according to road and weather conditions.
- An all-wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle will accelerate better in snow and ice, but will not brake any better than a conventional vehicle. Remember to use caution and don’t accelerate aggressively. Also be sure to test the vehicle’s stopping distance when safe to do so.
- Make sure every passenger has proper restraints and that children have the recommended type of seat or booster. Put children of 12 years of age and less in the back seat. Never put an infant rear facing seat in front of an air bag.
- Make sure your vehicle is serviced properly and that the heating and defrosting system is working. Also be sure to carry chains or use studded or snow tires.
- Carry an emergency pack with water, basic first aid items, blanket, dry food, extra cell phone, etc.
- In case your vehicle breaks down do not leave the vehicle. Stay protected from the cold inside.
By following these tips, you’ll do everything in your power to ensure safe winter driving on every trip. However, if you do need roadside assistance for any reason, rely on AAA! You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 800.222.4357, or download the AAA mobile app to request service from your device.