Avoid the hassles, plan now for winter driving

Lake Sun Staff
A motorist drives along Wilson Avenue with plates that say "FLBOUND" probably would rather be where it is warmer, Wednesday, December 30, 2020, in Sheboygan, Wis.

Drivers may have been caught off guard with the most recent round of winter weather. Now might be the time to make sure you are prepared when the next forecast calls for snow and ice. 

Snow, ice, slush and other winter driving challenges can threaten both driver and passenger safety, and adding distractions into the mix only exacerbates the situation. So instead of dashing through the snow in your four-wheeled “sleigh” and ending up o’er the hills, it may be best to simply drive with caution and focus, to stay on the road this winter.

Before heading out to the ski lodge or embarking on a winter road trip, take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of yourself, your friends and your family, as well as others on the road. According to Hankook Tire’s latest Winter Gauge Index, 68 percent of those surveyed are worried about skidding across winter’s icy roadways. Try these simple tips for staying safe while driving in winter weather:

- Put distractions on ice. Despite many recent public service announcements and news articles on the dangers of texting and driving, drivers between the ages of 18 and 35 say texting is their top distraction while on the road.

Other distractions include talking on the phone, talking to other passengers and eating while driving.  Whether you are heading to work, heading back to school after winter break, or road tripping with a group of friends on a ski trip, it’s important to keep your eyes on the road so you can reach your destination safely.

- Check your tire tread to prepare for snow. Worn tread is the top cause of skidding during the winter season, so it is important to make sure your tires are up to the task before hitting the road. A quick way to do this is to check your tires’ tread depth indicators. Tread depth indicators are small raised bars that run in-between a tire’s tread grooves. When a tire’s tread is worn down to these indicator bars, it’s time to change to a new set of tires.- If your winter driving plans include putting on a set of dedicated winter tires be sure to put them on your vehicle one to two weeks before the next anticipated snowstorm.

- Check your tire pressure. Every 10-degree drop in air temperature can actually cause a vehicle’s tires to lose up to 2 pounds per square inch (psi) in tire pressure. Improper tire pressure can result in increased tread wear and lowered performance, factors that are highly detrimental to one’s safety in undesirable weather driving conditions.

- Be prepared and stock up. Getting stuck on the road is also a major concern during the winter season. Before heading out, check to make sure your engine coolant, no-freeze windshield washer fluid and your gas tank is topped off. Also, make sure there are no blockages or obstructions to your heating or window defroster vents. Be sure to pack extra water, a spare tire, ice scraper, snow shovel and brush, blanket, booster cables and a flashlight in your car for emergencies.

Top five things to do to prepare

1. Update emergency contacts.

2. Put emergency kits at home and in the car.

3. Don’t put off home maintenance. Replace the furnace filter, clean out the fireplace and fill the propane tank.

4. Make sure vehicles are serviced.

5. Keep pets in mind and stock up for them, too.

Equip Your Vehicle With:

-A flashlight with extra batteries

-A first-aid kit 

-Necessary medications

-Blankets and/or sleeping bags

-Extra mittens or gloves, socks, a warm cap and rain gear

-A small sack of sand to use for traction under your wheels

-A small shovel

-Booster cables

-Small tools - pliers, wrench, screwdriver

-A brightly colored cloth to use as a flag

-Nonperishable foods

-Bottled water