Safety Tips: Home Security

Winter Driving Tips

Winter is a beautiful time of year, especially when a fresh layer of snow covers everything. But winter also brings new obstacles and responsibilities when traveling. Too often drivers don’t worry about adverse road conditions or become tense and nervous behind the wheel. Regardless of your driving skills, Sievers Security winter driving tips are designed to help you navigate winter road conditions and prepare you for what to do in the event of an emergency.

Overall, in the winter you should decrease your speed, increase the distance between vehicles, and allow more travel time.

  • Give yourself a few extra minutes to clean off all windows, headlights, and taillights on your vehicle prior to traveling. An unobstructed view will help you avoid running off the road or having a collision.
  • Stop to fill the gasoline tank before your tank begins to run low. Keeping your tank as full as possible will minimize condensation and provide an advantage in case of an emergency.
  • On snow covered or icy roadways it will take significantly longer to stop. The normal dry pavement following distance of 3-4 seconds should be increased to 8-10 seconds in the winter. You should also look further ahead than you normally do, as actions by other cars and trucks will alert you to problems ahead giving you more time to react safely.
  • Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for gaining traction and to avoid skids. Similarly when coming to a stop, instead of quickly switching from the gas pedal to the break pedal, allow the car to naturally decelerate by taking your foot off the gas, then gently apply pressure to the breaks. Keep in mind it takes longer to slow down and stop on snowy or icy roads.
  • Applying extra gas on a snow-covered road will just start your wheels spinning. Instead, try to get a little inertia going before you reach a hill and allow that inertia to carry you to the top. As you reach the top of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible. Use low gears to increase traction on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control in wintry conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the slightest touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads. Even at temperatures above freezing, these areas typically freeze first due to the difference in the exposure to air.
  • Typically, the road in front of the plow is in worse condition than the road behind the plow. During plowing operations, visibility can be reduced due to blowing snow. Keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the plow is very important in order to avoid an accident. When passing allow plenty of room and do not cut back into the lane ahead of the plow too quickly since the blade extends several feet ahead of the truck. When you see an approaching snow plow on an undivided roadway, move as far away from the centerline as you safely can since blowing snow may obscure the actual width of the snowplow's blade.

Basic skid rules
Take your foot off the gas and break. Do not make rapid movements until you have control of the steering again. Never jam on the brakes, gently apply them instead. Always turn the steering in the direction you are skidding. You can practice skid control in a large deserted parking lot.

If your rear wheels skid

  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid

  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck

  • Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  • Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  • Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  • Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  • Try rocking the vehicle (check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles). Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

It’s important to have an emergency kit with you during the winter months. Items that you should have in the emergency kit include:

  • Scraper and brush
  • Small shovel
  • Jumper cables and extra fluids (antifreeze, oil)
  • Spare fuses
  • Tow chain or tow rope
  • Sand or cat litter (for tire traction)
  • Road flares, reflectors, or a battery-powered warning light (If you are stranded, place these items behind your car to warn approaching motorists)
  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • Flashlight with extra batteries, light sticks, emergency candles and waterproof matches
  • High calorie, non-perishable food
  • Fresh drinking water

In the event you are stranded during the winter follow these guidelines:

  • Stay calm and call 911, describe your location, condition of yourself and companions, and the trouble you are experiencing.
  • Do not hang up until you know who you have spoken to and what will happen next, follow all instructions.
  • Stay in your vehicle as it provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a storm, it’s easy to lose sight of your car and you can become lost.
  • Crack the window for fresh air.
  • You can start the car and use the heater for 10 minutes every hour. Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and no fumes come back in the car.
  • Keep your blood circulating and stay warm by moving your arms and legs.
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers; tie a bright cloth to your antenna or door handle.

As always, you should have a spare tire with a jack and lug wrench as well as your cell phone and charger with you. And don’t forget ALWAYS wear your seat belt!


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