Ol’ man frosty has most certainly visited a great deal of the country this winter—even forcing some northern Floridians to turn up the heat this month as temperatures around the panhandle dipped into the low 20’s !
News reports of hundred-plus car pile ups on the highway, thousands of motor vehicle accidents, and people stranded, roadside, for hours have me wondering if we may need to take more caution before heading out in our vehicles this winter—or possibly, just staying home until conditions are more car-friendly.
Before you even venture out-of-doors and into your motor vehicle, think ahead. Being prepared and equipped can help you survive a potentially dangerous (or even deadly) situation. First, listen to a weather/traffic report. Sounds simple, yes? But be honest—do you do this regularly during the winter months? Weather can go from good to squall in an hours’ time. Do your best not to be caught off guard.
Secondly, remember that just because you may have a 4-wheel drive vehicle—which helps you to move forward when driving in slippery conditions, you still have to be able to brake in order to stop moving forward—something your 4-wheeler doesn’t do any better than other cars.
Third, be prepared for a car accident or the unfortunate event of getting stuck out there in a snow bank. Your car should be equipped with the following items: cell phone (stocked with emergency #s, including a towing company) and charger (in the hopes that you will still be able to run your engine), a warm blanket, ice scraper, extra windshield washer fluid (the non-freezing kind), a beverage and high protein snack bar or nuts (in case you have to wait a long while for help), and something red—like a towel or T-shirt—to create a visible flag if need be.
Finally, keep your speed down, recognize the potential for black ice, and leave yourself extra room between your vehicle and one you are following. Stay focused; don’t multitask on days with inclement weather. An alert driver can avoid a multitude of other people’s “sins”, too!