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November saw Metro Detroit plummet from 60 degrees and sunny to 30 degrees and snowy in less than a week. Now that the snow has arrived, get around safely using these five top tips for winter driving.
Cold air contracts, even the highly pressurized air in your car’s tires. In fact, your car’s tire pressure can decrease as much as 1 PSI for every 10 degrees temperature drop. If you were running low before, that evening freeze could put you in danger of a blowout. Before you set out on a snowy drive, check your tire pressure to make sure you are still within manufacturer-recommended range.
The cold can sap your battery’s charge. On very cold mornings, you could be stuck without a ride. Before the temperature drops too low, take your car in for a check up. Auto mechanics can diagnose your battery and let you know whether it will survive the cold winter ahead.
When salt builds up on your windshield while you are driving it poses a visibility challenge that could be disastrous. Make sure your windshield wipers are up for the challenge. If you are seeing any streaking or if the blades are torn, it’s time for a replacement. Use low-temperature windshield washer fluid and keep a spare jug in your trunk. And don’t be ashamed to stop in the middle of a snowy trip to clean off your blades. It’s better to stop for two minutes now than to get into an accident that will cost you hours later.
If you hit ice, you need to know how your car will react. Older vehicles may need you to pump the breaks to keep from sliding. But in newer vehicles, that same action will keep the anti-lock break systems from engaging. Instead, you will need to stomp on your brake pedal and let the system do its job.
Speed is the single biggest risk on icy roads. You need time to spot and react to black ice or patchy snow. If you drive like you are on dry pavement, you could be in for a tragic surprise. Leave extra distance between you and the cars on either side and be prepared to steer into the skid in case you slide. Most importantly, don’t rush. If you are in a hurry, you may not spot the patch of ice that sends you into the median.
Winter driving requires good preparation, caution, and skill. You never know when poor weather conditions could arise. But if you have taken care of your vehicle and are driving safely, you should make it through just fine.
David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents the victims of bad-weather accidents. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured in a car crash, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.