With winter in full effect, the tips and tricks for managing snow and ice conditions on the road are all around us. Using snow tires, clearing the vehicle, proper braking techniques, and how to get unstuck using litter or gravel are just a few examples of good and practical advice for drivers. But the reality is, those are all secondary. The most important component for staying safe in poor driving conditions is you — the driver.
Before the ignition ever turns over, the snow is shoveled off the roof, or the tires start spinning on the ice, the driver has already made multiple decisions that will effect their safety, as well as the safety of their passengers and fellow travelers on the road.
Deciding to Drive: A sure fire way to avoid getting stuck or having an accident in bad weather is to simply avoid unnecessary driving in the first place. If not going out is an option, choose that. In many cases, however, personal responsibilities require us to drive. If you need to get out there on the road, just remember: never drive when tired, especially in bad weather. Being alert is imperative to being safe.
Mentally Prepare: It’s going to be frustrating. It will take longer than usual. It might even be a little scary. Give yourself plenty of time by leaving early and accept that the trip may be difficult and unpleasant. By preparing for the worst, you’re ready to tackle the challenges.
Dress Appropriately: This isn’t about fashion. Proper attire behind the wheel can make a significant impact in the driver’s ability to react and respond. Start by removing bulky winter coats (once you get in the car and the heat’s on, of course). Wear a light sweatshirt or jacket while driving, and save the parka for after you arrive. This allows for a free range of motion to twist and turn and see in all directions. Bulky jackets also restrict arm movements and make steering difficult. And who hasn’t had the moment when you’re sweating in a heavy jacket and decide to take it off while driving, only to get stuck in the seat belt?
Same with heavy gloves and boots. Have them around for clearing snow and ice, but remove them before driving. If you want your hands covered, wear very lightweight and thin gloves that have good grip. Keep a pair of car shoes in the vehicles to wear when driving instead of the boots. Big, heavy boots can prevent proper acceleration and braking; even inadvertently causing pedals to be depressed that aren’t intended.
Also, keep sunglasses in the car to manage the glare off of snow and ice.
Reduce Distractions: It may seem obvious, but it’s another key component to driver safety. When driving in rough weather, put the cell phone away and turn off the entertainment systems. For parents with kids, remind them that mom or dad needs to concentrate on driving, and please, for the next few minutes, keep the questions and bickering to a minimum.
Use the Safety Features: Start with what is in every single vehicle — a seat belt. Always, ALWAYS, buckle yourself up, and everyone in the car with you. Most modern Honda vehicles also have a variety of new safety and traction features included in their packages. Learn them, and use them. Traction control, hill assist, all-wheel drive, stability control, and anti-lock brakes are just some of the options available today that can be extremely handy in poor weather conditions.
At Herb Chambers Honda of Seekonk, we want our staff and valued customers to be safe on the roads, and we understand that begins with the decisions made before even pulling out of the parking space. Stay safe on the roads, everyone!
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