When the cold starts to set in we all get prepared for driving in the fog, rain, ice, snow; slippery, muddy, or oily roads, and poor visibility conditions. It can be a dangerous time for pedestrians, light vehicle drivers and heavy vehicle drivers. Winter is inevitable and nothing can be done to avoid it, but preventive maintenance and extra caution can be important factors in accident prevention. First take a little extra time during your pre-trip inspection:
- Are the windshield and side windows clear?
- Do the windshield wipers work?
- Are the blades in good condition?
- Can you see in all the mirrors?
- Are the headlights clean enough to allow proper visibility?
- Does the defroster work or is there so much on the dash that the defroster could not properly work?
- Do the tires have good tread and adequate pressure?
- Are the brakes working properly?
- Do you have emergency or repair equipment in the vehicle, including flashlights, flares, fire extinguishers, and chains where applicable?
- Have you planned your travel route?
- Did you check the weather before going out?
Most vehicles are equipped with Cruise Control and for most using it is second nature; saving fuel costs, preventing leg fatigue and keeping us away from speeding tickets. However using this during bad weather conditions can be dangerous because when the vehicle skids or hydroplanes, the vehicle sensors will feel a loss in speed and accelerate. When this happens a driver can lose control of the vehicle.
Always be alert to the possibility of black ice when temperatures are near or below freezing. Pavement that looks dry but appears darker in color and dull-looking should alert you to the presence of black ice.
Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick surface. Increase your following distance enough so that you have plenty of time to stop. When braking without anti-skid, brake carefully with short, rapid application. Vehicles with anit-skid, brake carefully by pressing and holding the brake, the vehicle will do the rest. Accelerate gradually to avoid loss of traction. Turn with caution to avoid sliding on the road. Pass with care and avoid sudden movements. If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go.
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