Well however the election went on Tuesday, I’m glad to see the TV ads have changed to Christmas. Okay, I’m not excited to see Christmas ads but this is a reminder that winter is coming and even though the weather outside has been much nicer than we have seen in a long time, we better get ready. Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks. Never run a vehicle to warm it up in an enclosed area, such as a garage. Make certain your tires are properly inflated based on the vehicles recommendations. Keep your gas tank at least half full or full, as moisture builds up inside the tank with changing temperatures. When traveling long distances, it is very important to keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle.  If possible, avoid using your parking brake to stop the vehicle in cold, rainy and snowy weather. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface as it can cause the loss of control. Always look and steer where you want to go. While this is a State law, I need to remind everyone to use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle. When going on long-distance trips make sure to follow these tips. Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected.

If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival. Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it checked by a mechanic of your choice. You never know where the next gas station will be and if it will be open. Pack a cellular telephone with your local contacts telephone numbers and important stops along the way. You will also want to pack blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle. If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost. Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a closed window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you. Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment when the engine is running.

Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline. Very important tips for driving in the snow include, accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. It takes longer to slow down on icy roads and drive slowly because everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. When accelerating, stopping, turning, remember that nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly. The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you need to stop.  Know how your brakes work ahead of time. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal-it’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated. In cars without ABS, keeping your heel on the floorboard and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. Keep moving and don’t stop if you can avoid it.  There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach a hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible. Keep moving and don’t stop while going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill. If the weather looks bad and you have the option, just stay home. If you don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.

Until next week, stay safe

Chief Rindfleisch