The true depths of winter will be upon us soon. As January approaches, remember a few of these safe driving tips for road trips that are long or short.

Before You Go

There are steps that you can take before your holiday road trip this winter to both prevent and to keep you safe during a collision.

  • Preform the penny test. Take a penny and stick it head-down in your tire treads. If you can see all of Abe, you need new tires! Having tires with too low a tread will reduce your traction and make a spin out more likely.
  • Check your wipers and refill your windshield wiper fluid. If it starts raining or snowing while you are driving, you will need effective windshield wipers to make sure your visibility doesn’t suffer. Windshield wiper fluid has anti-freezing properties, which make it useful if you are caught in a sleet storm.
  • Fill up the tank. Rule of thumb for winter driving is to never let your gas gauge go below half a tank. If you get stuck in the snow, having gas to keep the car warm and charge electronics could be the difference between an unfortunate experience and a tragedy.
  • Pack an ice scraper and shovel. If you plan on stopping for a meal or overnight, you could get snowed in. Having an ice scraper will help your visibility when you get back on the road, and a shovel will come in handy if you need to dig your car out of a ditch or snowplow’s wake.
  • Have an “emergency” kit for everyone on board. For everyone in your car, have a hat, pair of gloves, and hand warmers. If your car spins out or you are in a collision, having extra ways to stay warm will help you reserve gas until you get help.
  • Check your brakes. When you press down on your brakes while driving, does it take more pressure than normal to get your brakes engage? Do you hear a grinding noise? If so, you will need to get your brakes changed. Having full control of your car, including how well it stops, is essential in preventing collisions.

On the Road

When you are on your way, there are a few things you can do to ensure a safe arrive to your destination.

  • Keep your eyes on the road. As much as we understand the desire to change the radio to your favorite Christmas song or look at a picture of your cousin’s puppy in a Santa hat, stay focused on the task at hand. The average driver has a reaction time of 0.8 seconds, and in the winter every tenth of a second counts when it comes to avoiding a collision.
  • Drive slow and steady. While getting to your destination before the fifth round of “100 Bottle of Pop on The Wall” starts sounds appealing, maintaining a steady speed below the limit will help keep you and other drivers safe. Snow on the road reduces traction, meaning that you will need more time to stop and will have less control of your vehicle if you slam on your brakes. Keep a long following distance, a steady pace, and remain below the speed limit.

We hope that you have a safe and happy holiday season. If you are in a collision this holiday season, let us give you a hand at Crossroads Collision.