Bridgestone/Firestone worked with IMSA and SCCA championship winning race car driver Peter Cunningham (also a three-time national ice driving champion), to develop these tips for safe winter driving.
During winter months, keep abreast of weather reports in your area. Smartphone users can easily get a download link to install the Region 8 News weather app by texting either IPHONEWX or ANDROIDWX to 52488.
If snow or ice is predicted, make plans to leave early or arrive later. An alarm clock set to an earlier time can be a good friend in helping you avoid difficulties.
If you can move a night trip to daylight hours, do so. Not only is visibility better, but if your vehicle is stalled, you are more likely to receive prompt assistance during the daytime.
Prepare your vehicle for winter driving - use this checklist as a guideline:
1. Check windshield wiper blades to make sure they work properly. In some areas, snow blades are an effective alternative to conventional wiper blades.
2. Have your mechanic test the anti-freeze/coolant to provide the correct level of protection required in your driving area.
3. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflation can reduce the gripping action of tires because the tread will not meet the road surface as it was designed to do. Overinflation has the same effect.
4. If you live in areas where snow and ice are certainties of winter driving, don't depend on all-season tires. Instead, install snow tires. Snow tires are made of softer components and have a unique tread design that provide better traction and road-gripping abilities.
5. Keep your gas tank at least half-full. The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems within your fuel system. It also adds helpful weight to your vehicle.
6. In rear-wheel drive vehicles, extra weight in the trunk or truck bed may be helpful. Use care-- unsecured weight can shift while you are moving or if you have to stop suddenly. Bags of sand can provide weight and, if sprinkled on the ice, sand helps provide traction.
- blanket or extra clothes
- candle with matches
- beverages (never alcohol)
- C. B. radio, cellular phone or ham radio
- a small shovel
- windshield scraping device
- tow rope
- bag of sand or cat litter for traction
- long jumper cables
If you do have trouble, run the engine only briefly to run the heater, not continuously. Carbon monoxide can accumulate more easily in a non-moving vehicle.
Severe engine damage may also occur if the motor runs for long periods when the vehicle is not in motion. Warming up a car prior to travel is a common practice, but most engines really don't need more than a minute at most to circulate oil to all internal parts. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for information about your engine.