Arrive Alive - Winter Driving Checklist




Like it or not, it is time to get ready for old-man-winter. I just had winter tires put on my vehicle & feel safer already. Are you ready for winter driving? Use the checklist below to travel safe this winter. 


Winter Driving Checklist

-          Give your self extra time in the morning. Warm up your car. You don’t want to be in a hurry on icy roads. Let weather dictate traffic speed.

-          Ensure proper visibility. Defrost your windshield & brush all the snow off your car before driving it. Always have extra windshield washer fluid in your car.

-          With shorter daylight hours, fog & snow, use low light beams (you’ll see better & will be seen).

-          Following too closely leads to many traffic collisions. On icy roads, leave extra/twice the room/space between vehicles. Slow down when approaching intersections.

-          Use winter tires on icy winter roads. The braking distance of winter tires compared to all season tires can be up to 2 car lengths (depending on speed & conditions).

-          If skidding on ice, don't pump your ABS brakes, don't step on the gas too hard and don't oversteer. Stay in control/don’t panic. Look in the direction that you want to go.

-          Tire pressure is lost when the temperature drops. Check your tire pressure monthly to ensure optimal handling and even wear on your tires.

-          Prevent frozen gas lines by keeping at least half a tank of gas in your car. Add gasline antifreeze.

-          Check/change fluids. Your antifreeze level should be good for at least minus 35C. Lighter engine oil is also recommended in winter.

-          Have your battery & alternator checked every fall; to ensure that your vehicle will start when the temperature drops.

-          Be patient & only pass cars when it is safe to do so.  Use the right lane if travelling slow.

-          Don’t use cruise control in precipitation and freezing temperatures.

-          Don’t get caught in a storm. If going on a winter road trip, check weather/road conditions before driving. Delay your trip if the weather will be bad. Take a map in case an alternate route is needed. Consider getting off the road if travelling & the weather worsens. Let someone know where you are going & when you will be arriving.

-          Always be prepared for the worst. Always bring a cell phone & winter survival kit in your car.

Winter Travel Survival Kit

-          first aid kit

-          snacks like granola bars or trail mix

-          flashlight

-          blanket or sleeping bag

-          warm clothing (boots, hat, mitts)

-          candles & lighter

-          shovel, flares, jumper cables

-          knife & basic tools (screw drivers/wrench)

-          extra antifreeze, windshield washer fluid etc

-          spare tire, tire jack

This survival kit is not just for long road rips. Your vehicle can break anywhere at anytime.  It may happen on our coldest winter day. You will be happy that you have warm boots & clothing to put on. 

If everyone would just slow down, allow extra time & extra space between cars, motor vehicle collisions, injuries & fatalities will be prevented. Be prepared for winter driving. Travel safe & arrive alive.

Asleep at the Wheel

I was coming home from work the other day & stopped at a red light. I noticed the car beside me as the driver had his head out the window & was rubbing his eyes. He layed his head down on his arm, which was resting on the open window, & quickly fell asleep. He didn’t notice that the light turned green. The driver behind him hit his car horn. The sleepy driver woke up startled and proceeded through the intersection.

Falling asleep at the wheel is all too common. Twice I witnessed cars going into the ditch because of drivers falling asleep. Luckily, their cars just missed mine & I avoided head-on collisions. The drivers were also lucky as they did not get seriously hurt. 

Have you ever driven while sleepy? Most of us have. Below I have listed a few tips to stay alert while driving:

1            Plan ahead & get enough sleep before doing a long road trip. If you are sleepy while driving, pull over at a rest stop, parking lot or approach & have a quick nap (stopping on the shoulder of the road just isn’t as safe). A quick nap is the best way to prevent falling asleep at the wheel.

2            When blood sugars get low we get sleepy. Ensure you are properly nourished & stay hydrated. Avoid sugary & fatty snacks that will cause your energy level to crash. Eat crunchy & sour foods or ice cubes to wake up your tastebuds & you.

3            If you drive for a living, plan to incorporate physical activity into your day. A fitness break may be just what you need to get rid of the fog in your brain. A half hour brisk walk or run will clear your head and will re-energize you.

4            Coffee/caffeine may help to keep you awake short-term. If anything the resulting bathroom breaks will help.

5            Keeping your window open or turning your air conditioning on may also help. Be careful not to get a chill. If you get sick, you will have less energy.

6            Listen to upbeat music (not slow relaxing music). Don’t turn it too loud as it is important to be able to hear sirens etc.

7            Bring a friend along for the drive to keep conversation going. You can take turns driving and napping when necessary.

8            Driving impaired is asking for trouble. Avoid driving when taking certain medications (know the side effects of your medication). Avoid drinking & driving. Avoid driving when tired & hung-over. Alcohol & driving just don’t mix.

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, falling asleep at the wheel causes: approximately 100,000 motor vehicle collisions, over 1,500 deaths, over 70,000 injuries and significant amounts of property damage each year.

Remember, if you fall asleep at the wheel, you may injure or kill innocent people/families &/or yourself. It just isn’t worth it. Stay alert & stay awake at the wheel.

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