Traveling for the holidays often means driving on icy, snow-packed roads. Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States, but most crashes are avoidable with the proper precautions. Learn how to prepare for a holiday road trip and stay safe while navigating wintery conditions.
Before You Leave on a Holiday Road Trip
The risk of mechanical failure and other car problems increases in harsh, cold conditions. Make sure your vehicle is ready with these tips:
- Check your tire pressure every time you fill-up the gas tank. Pressure can decrease as much as one to two psi for every 10-degree temperature drop, so you may need to top off the air for the best performance during your holiday travels.
- Consider installing snow tires, which make a huge difference in snowy conditions. You’ll especially notice a performance enhancement if your old tires are wearing out and going bald.
- Test your battery. Car batteries have a harder time starting in freezing conditions. A quick test tells you if the battery is weak so you can replace it before you get stranded on the side of the road.
- Check your brakes to reveal any developing problems. If a repair is necessary, you can have the work done before a disaster occurs on your holiday road trip.
- Replace the windshield wipers to ensure good visibility, no matter how hard the snow is falling. Then, top off the windshield washer reservoir with cold-weather fluid that has a lower freezing point.
- Check your other fluids. Washer fluid isn’t the only thing that should be topped off. Ensure your car has sufficient engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid.
- Stock a winter survival kit with booster cables and an ice scraper, a flashlight and extra batteries, heavy coats for everyone, car cell phone chargers, a basic first aid kit and medicines, and non-perishable food. You never know if you might get stranded this winter, so be prepared.
- Fill the gas tank often. It’s inconvenient to stop any more than necessary, but by never allowing the gauge to fall below a quarter of a tank, you reduce the chance of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Follow this habit all winter long to prevent condensation from forming and freezing in the gas line.
While on the Road
With the car loaded and ready to go, you can be on your way! Help make sure you arrive at your destination safely with these holiday driving tips:
- Time your departure, so you don’t get stuck in rush hour traffic.
- Make sure everyone is wearing their seatbelt, no matter their age or position in the car. Remember that puffy coats should not be worn beneath car seat harnesses for safety reasons. Instead, buckle your child in, and then place a coat or blanket over them.
- Avoid driving at night, if possible, to decrease the chance of becoming fatigued. If you feel drowsy, don’t hesitate to swap drivers or pull over and rest for a while.
- Keep your lights on, even when driving during the day. This increases your visibility, making it easier to see and be seen, especially if rain or snow starts falling.
- Increase your following distance on wet or icy roads, so you have time to stop if the driver in front of you slams on the brakes.
- Slow down if the weather deteriorates. You have less control over your vehicle on wintery roads, so travel at least 5 to 10 miles per hour slower than the posted speed limit.
- Do away with distractions. This means putting away your cell phone, not eating behind the wheel, and letting a passenger control the radio.
- Take alternate routes if necessary. Stay up-to-date with weather forecasts and road closures so you can take the least affected routes to your destination. Use a GPS, so you don’t get lost on unfamiliar roads.
- Delay your trip if the weather is bad. It may be disappointing to arrive a day late, but attempting to navigate a blizzard is never a good idea. In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Hopefully, these precautions keep you safe on the road this holiday season. However, if you get in an accident in the Chicago area, B&L Automotive Repairs can get your car fixed up fast. We’ll help you make the most of a bad situation with 24-hour towing, car rental services, pickup and delivery options, free repair estimates, and a lifetime guarantee. Your satisfaction is our top priority, so give us a call at (773) 463-1622 or contact us online to find out how we can help.