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Let it snow… and let your driving keep you safe

By Lea Wojciechowski Ross, Blogger for Dotten Collision ~ January 26, 2017

“And since we’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”
Emphasis on “we’ve no place to go.”

If you have nowhere to go, and you don’t have to be out on the road for any reason, then sure, let it snow!  Snow is beautiful and sparkly and allows for some fun wintery outdoor activities.  It’s no wonder that kids love snow and get so excited when the flakes start coming (plus they always hope for a snow day from school).  But kids don’t have to drive!  Driving in snow is one of the most stressful and potentially dangerous activities in winter.

How can you stay safe, and keep your car safe, this winter?  Throughout the first quarter (and sometimes the second…) of the new year, you may face snow and ice and extreme cold on just a normal day as you drive to work, meetings, community events, social outings, and more.

Cars driving in the snow

picture source: AAA

The Internet, newspapers, and auto mechanics are certainly not short of information when it comes to winter driving tips.  Most Michiganders have come to accept that winter in the Mitten State means work and preparation to deal with frozen car doors, spinning tires, black ice, blinding blizzards, and disappearing lanes.  A reminder of how to stay safe this winter never hurts.

Here are some maintenance tips, courtesy of a Troy Times article from earlier this month:

  • Get your vehicle checked to ensure that the coolant or antifreeze protection level is adequate.
  • Test your battery (whose average life expectancy is 4-5 years) to ensure it still has life in it.
  • Check the air pressure in your tires to be sure they are properly inflated.
  • Make sure that the tread depth of your tires is at least 4/32nds of an inch.
  • See if your tires “look” good – i.e., no dry rotting or cracking or unusual appearance.
  • Have your windshield wiper blades inspected and possibly replaced to ensure that they can efficiently sweep away snow or sleet.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.

In addition, the Times and AAA recommend that you stock your car with the following supplies this winter:

  • Snow scraper
  • Snow shovel
  • Salt or sand
  • Jack
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare tire
  • Flashlight
  • Winter roadside safety kit with blankets, flares, and simple tools
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Boots, hats, and gloves
  • Nonperishable snacks and water

Most importantly, take it slow in ice and snow (I believe that’s a slogan of our Michigan highway system; I’ve certainly seen those words on digital signs as I’m driving down I-75).  The Department of Transportation is right – drive slowly, stay focused, and be extra cautious when bad weather hits.  Accelerate and decelerate slowly to maintain traction, and do not use cruise control on slippery roads.  Try to avoid coming to a complete stop whenever possible, as it takes much less inertia to get a vehicle moving if it is still rolling.  And remember to keep a close lookout for the cars around you as well – no matter how much of a winter driving expert you are, the drivers around you may not be.

Finally, be sure to check the weather report regularly so that you can physically and mentally prepare for whatever conditions you are about to face.  Whenever possible, if the weather is particularly bad, stay home and choose not to go out on the roads.  And if you’re tired, even more reason to avoid going out on bad roads since they require more focus and energy.  Watch the magic of the swirling snow from inside your house – it’s much less stressful than driving in it.

Be prepared and be smart to make sure that you stay safe in ice and snow!

Check out this 2-minute safety video from AAA!


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