It’s nearly winter, and it’s time to prepare our vehicles and remind ourselves of all those techniques that should be second nature by now—what to do if you hit a patch of ice, how to brake on winter roads in Kentucky, and so forth.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Transportation Safety’s website provides helpful information on winter driving and related topics.
Here are the “Four P’s of Safe Winter Driving”:
Prepare Your Vehicle
- Check each tire’s tread. If you stick a penny into the tread of each of your tires and can see all of the top of Lincoln’s head, you need to replace that tire: you have less than a sixteenth of an inch of tread.
- Check the tire pressure. Check your owner’s manual or the sticker inside the driver’s-side door, and make sure that your tires are set to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch). When you check your tires, they should be cold—meaning that the car hasn’t been driven for at least three hours.
- Check fluid levels, defrosters, and the exhaust system. Check the windshield washer, antifreeze, oil, brake, and power steering fluid levels are sufficiently high. Test the defrosters, front and rear, and the exhaust system for proper operation.
- Put together an emergency kit. It should include a first aid kit, shovel, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter, flashlight, candles and matches or lighter, bottled water, and nonperishable food.
Plan Your Travel
Stay on top of weather and road conditions.
- Drive with caution. Avoid speeding, using cruise control, and following other vehicles too closely.
- Make sure you can be seen. Use your headlights on low when driving on cloudy days.
- Brake appropriately. To slow a vehicle with anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure. If you have a vehicle without anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure until the brakes start to lock, ease off, and then apply pressure again.
- Steer into a skid. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go as you let up on the gas.
- Practice driving in winter conditions. Take your car to an empty parking lot, and practice stops and turns on snow or ice.
Protect Yourself in an Emergency
If you are in an accident with no injuries and your car is drivable,
- move your vehicle off the roadway;
- call the police; and
- exchange information with the driver of the other vehicle.
If you are in an accident and your car is not drivable,
- if you are able, move your vehicle off the roadway and stay in your vehicle;
- if you are unable to move your vehicle, stand clear of it and off the roadway, and stay warm by moving your arms and legs;
- turn on your emergency flashers; and
- tie a bright or white cloth to your antenna, secure it with your window, or raise the hood to indicate that you need help.
If you are stuck in snow,
- make sure that your vehicle’s exhaust pipe is clear;
- keep the car running with the windows partway down; and
- use the heater for only 10 minutes an hour.
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