Traveling in Winter Safely

Winter transforms the world into an all-new world. While road trips during summer, spring, and fall also bring some beautiful scenic drives, winter drives can be ethereal. Snow blankets stone and rock formations, monoliths, as well as trees. Lakes freeze into glassy surfaces where you can peer into your reflection. Popular scenic drives that you should try include:

  • Yosemite Natural Park, California
  • Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
  • High Road to Taos Scenic Byway, New Mexico
  • Lake Tahoe, Nevada
  • Lakes to Locks Passage, New York

Winter, however, comes with its own set of driving risks and hazards. You have to take extra precautions whenever you go on a winter road trip.

Stay at home when the weather is bad.

Even if you have been looking forward to the trip, stay at home. Watch out for advisories from the National Weather Service. You do not want to get caught in the middle of a winter storm or a blizzard. The blowing snow and strong winds can give you very low visibility when you are driving. The best option is to stay put and stay at home.

Check your vehicle before your trip.

Driving during the cold winter is not only challenging for you. It is also difficult for the vehicle. Getting your vehicle ready and serviced before your trip can help ensure that your ride is in optimal condition for a long winter drive. While you wouldn’t want your car to break down whatever the season, you wouldn’t want it more in winter.

Get your car properly checked and serviced to avoid risks and mishaps. You may want to check your battery too. Battery power goes down as the temperature drops. Also, your car will need more battery power to start during winter. Ask your mechanic to check if your battery has enough voltage for your trip. Replace the battery if needed.

Ask your mechanic to also check the cooling system of your vehicle. Ensure that your vehicle has enough coolant and that there are no leaks. You must also ensure the following before your trip.

  • The windshield’s water reservoir is filled with no-freeze fluid.
  • Make sure that wipers and defrosters work properly.
  • Check your tires and make sure that the pressure for each is correct. Replace tires with uneven treads.
  • Check that there are no damages to the ignition wires and distributor cap.
  • All lights (headlights, emergency flashers, sidelights, taillights, directional lights, brake lights, parking lights) must be working properly.

Stock your car with winter essentials.

Aside from packing for food and enough water, it would be best if you also packed your winter travel essentials. You will never know when you will encounter an emergency, so be sure to have the following items in your trunk.

  • Ice scraper
  • Snow shovel
  • Broom
  • Abrasive materials such as sand for when your car gets stuck in the snow
  • Tow rope
  • Flashlight
  • Warning devices like markers and flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire chains
  • Fuel line de-icer
  • Warm and thick blankets
  • Cellphone
  • Maps
  • Medicines
  • First Aid Kit

Should you get stranded in the snow, do not panic. Call emergency rescue numbers. Turn on your car’s flashing lights or light up a flare. If the snowstorm is severe or you cannot dig the snow away from your tires, stay in your car. Stay warm and bundled up. Run your car every hour for about 10 minutes to give you heat. Keep the window on the side shielded from the cold wind slightly opened to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do not fall asleep, and watch out for emergency vehicles. If you have company, take turns if you need to sleep.

Prepare yourself for the long trip.

woman traveling

Of course, aside from your car, you must also ready yourself for the trip. You may want to visit your doctor to ensure that you are in good condition. Get tested for Corona Virus if you can. Make sure to also stay hydrated before the trip.

If you have severe back pains or scoliosis, you should prepare yourself for long periods of sitting. Scoliosis exercises can help prepare your back and keep the pain manageable and at bay.

If you are not feeling well on the day of the trip, reschedule. You will only put yourself and your companions at risk if you force yourself.

Drive carefully in the snow.

You should drive carefully no matter the weather, but you should be more careful on the road during winter. Buckle your seat belts before you drive out and throughout your trip. Drive at reduced speed and take extra care when making turns. Driving slower than usual is your best defense when driving on icy roads. Watch out for black ice, which will look like shiny asphalt.

Drive with full control and do not use cruise control even on long, empty highways. You should also drive with your low-beam headlights on. They will make your car visible to other drivers on the road. Practice safe and defensive driving for your safety and that of your passengers as well.

A winter road trip can be fun. Just make sure that you take all the necessary precautions to make your trip more enjoyable and hassle-free.

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