Now that winter is upon us, it is time to make sure that we pay extra special attention to the weather, and be sure that we are on track to be safe when we go out on the roads. There are a few important things to consider when driving in the winter season.
Here are my first few tips to keep you and your teen driver safe and confident behind the wheel:
1. Keep Your Windows Clean
Keeping your windshield and windows clean, improves your visibility, reduces distractions and also helps cut down on sun glare. Newspaper and water (or vinegar) make a great, cheap window cleaning combo. Wipe the exterior vertically and the internal horizontally – this way if you have streaks you know which side of the glass it’s on!
2. Check Your Tires
First, you need to be sure that you have the right tire pressure at all times. It was easier when I started driving, as all of the gas stations would check it for you; however, that is a thing of the past! To check your tires, you will want to get a good quality tire pressure gauge, and use the numbers for air pressure that are located inside the driver’s door frame. The numbers on the tire sidewall are NOT the place to look!
Also, you must check your tread depth. Worn tires can lead to poor traction and dangerous blow-outs. The law states that a tire is officially worn out with 2/32” of tread depth; however, we recommend that you change it a bit before you get to that amount.
A simple way to gauge this is with some loose change in your pocket. Put a quarter into the tread of your tire. If the tire just touches Washington’s head, you have about 4/32” left and should start planning on changing your tires. If it doesn’t reach his head, for 25 cents you may have saved yourself from a much more expensive situation. (PS…make sure his head is towards the inside of the tire)
3. “Your Future’s So Bright, You Gotta Wear Shades”
While the fall and winter are beautiful seasons in the northeast, the trees losing their leaves and the snow and ice on the ground often play a major role in motor vehicle crashes. Eye strain from glare can fatigue a driver and also make it harder to see obstructions. This is particularly exacerbated when there is snow or ice on the ground. Get yourself some sunglasses (even cheap one’s will do); it will help you remain more focused and look cool doing it!
4. Warm Up To Driving
Tires perform at their worst when they are cold. This can get compounded by cold pavement. And when we talk about tires performing, we aren’t talking about accelerating around curves; we are talking about getting maximum grip when braking.
During the winter months, remember that the climate is cold; give a little extra distance when braking, especially until you have driven at least 15 miles to get some warmth into the tires.
5. Salt Doesn’t Just Raise Your Blood Pressure
During the winter, there is a lot of salt dumped on the roads. This is great to help melt any ice that may be out there, but there are some additional dangers that you must keep in mind. Excessive areas of salt can actually reduce traction for your car; think of it as loose gravel on the pavement. You should always be scanning the road ahead of you looking for these low traction conditions and be prepared if you have to brake or make any sudden maneuvers. Salt is also corrosive for your car. Remember, regular car washes are a lot cheaper than replacing your corroded exhaust!
6. When The Weather Is Bad, The Timing Is Good
While I know how scary it can be, getting into the car’s passenger seat with your new driver behind the wheel, especially when the weather is less than perfect; however, it is VERY important to practice driving in bad weather. Of course, you may not want to do this in the first few weeks of driving, but you do want to ensure that you get plenty of practice in during all four seasons, and in every possible situation you can think of.
I hope that you find these tips helpful! Have a safe, happy and healthy holiday and a Happy New Year from all of us at FNL!