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Safe Winter Driving Tips

  1. Tires. Tires are the most important safety aspect of your car as all of the controls and electronic systems control the tire. This is true all year long, but is even more important in the winter when you have the potential of greatly reduced traction. Snow tires are the optimal choice if you live where you get snow and ice each winter. Many all season tires can perform well in moderate snow or ice, but are not as good as snow tires.
  2. Tire pressure. No matter what tire you are driving on, in the winter make sure the tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure can cause the tire to lose traction prematurely and cause you to lose control of the vehicle. On average, for every 10 degrees of change in ambient temperature, your tires will change one PSI. So that all-season tire at 30 PSI on an 80˚ day has 26 PSI during a 40˚ winter day. In that case, it’s potentially underinflated, which means you run the risk of pulling the tire off of the rim in an emergency lane change situation. Make sure your tires have the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure and check the pressure at least once a month.
  3. Tread Depth. Worn tires do not grip as well as new tires in inclement weather (snow, ice, sand, mud, etc.). Check the tread depth of your tires (or have a qualified tire technician) in the fall and determine if they are good enough to last through the winter. If not, replace them.
  4. Emergency supplies. Like in the Boy Scouts, “be prepared”. If you are traveling long distances away from home have extra supplies. Make sure you carry an emergency kit, blankets, flashlight (w/new batteries) and candles (for heat and light). Make sure to check the spare tire for inflation and wear or cracking. Carry a couple of flares as well.
  5. Slow down. Most accidents occurred in the winter are caused by driving too fast for the conditions. In snow and icy conditions you have less grip. You need to adjust your speed accordingly. The vehicle will need more distance to slow down and to speed up. Give yourself more distance to the car in front of you, so that you have time and real estate to react.
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