Safe Winter Driving

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Information about Safe Winter Driving

Published on January 4, 2008

Author: Ariane


Safe Winter Driving 2004:  Safe Winter Driving 2004 The leading cause of death during winter storms is transportation accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving. Indiana State Police Road & Weather Information: 800-552-8917 Lowell District 800-421-4912 Toll Road District 800-382-7537 Lafayette District Before a Storm :  Before a Storm Have a mechanic check the following items on your car. Battery Antifreeze Wipers and windshield washer fluid Ignition system Thermostat Lights Flashing hazard lights Exhaust system Heater Brakes Defroster Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE5w/30 weight variety) Install good winter tires.:  Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs. Other tips.:  Other tips. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for handy ice and snow removal. Keep at least a half tank of gas during the winter season. Plan long trips carefully. Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person. Use alternate transportation. If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation whenever possible. Dress warmly. Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Carry food and water. Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water. (Allow for expansion in container if water might freeze.) Contact your local emergency management office, American Automobile Association (AAA) or American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving. Winter Driving Techniques:  Winter Driving Techniques Be aware that ramps, bridges and overpasses may occasionally freeze first. Be aware of “black ice” (roads that look wet but are actually glazed with ice.) Know how your anti-lock brakes work in slippery conditions. Remember not to pump your brakes if they are anti-lock brakes. Cont..:  Cont.. Drive well below the posted speed limit and avoid the use of cruise control when snow, ice, freezing rain or sleet is on the pavement. The posted speed limits are intended for normal pavement conditions. Don’t drive through “white out” conditions. Stay a safe distance behind other vehicles, especially snowplows. Never try to pass a snow plow. Turn on your lights – to see and be seen. Brush the snow off your head lights and tail lights frequently. Buckle up! Skids:  Skids Rear-wheel skids The most effective way to get your vehicle back under control during a skid is as follows: Take your foot off the brake or accelerator. De-clutch on a car with a manual transmission, or shift to neutral on a car with automatic transmission. Look and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. As the rear wheels stop skidding to the right or left, counter-steer until you are going in the desired direction. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, if you over-correct the first skid (Step 4), be prepared for a rear-wheel skid in the opposite direction.  Practice and the use of timely, gentle movement of the steering wheel are necessary to avoid this type of skid. Once the vehicle is straight, release the clutch or shift to drive, apply gentle accelerator pressure so that the engine speed matches the road speed, and accelerate smoothly to a safe speed.   Skids:  Skids Front-wheel skids Front-wheel skids are caused by hard braking or acceleration if your vehicle has front-wheel drive. When the front wheels lose traction, you will not be able to steer the vehicle.  Regardless of whether the vehicle has front-, rear- or four-wheel drive, the best way to regain control if the front wheels skid is: Take your foot off the brake or accelerator. De-clutch on a car with manual transmission, or shift to neutral on a car with automatic transmission. If the front wheels have been turned prior to the loss of traction, don't move the steering wheel.  Since the wheels are skidding sideways, a certain amount of braking force will be exerted. (Unwinding the steering wheel will result in regaining steering sooner; however, the vehicle will be travelling faster because there is little sideways braking force.  This technique should only be attempted in situations where limited space and sharp curves exist -- however, in this case do not reduce pressure on the brakes, because the vehicle will shoot off in the direction the wheels are facing.) Wait for the front wheels to grip the road again.  As soon as traction returns, the vehicle will start to steer again. When the front wheels have regained their grip, steer the wheels gently in the desired direction of travel. Release the clutch or shift to drive and apply gentle accelerator pressure so that the engine speed matches the road speed, and accelerate smoothly to a safe speed. There is no risk at all of the car skidding in the opposite direction Skids:  Skids Four-wheel skids Sometimes all four wheels lose traction.  This generally occurs when the vehicle is driven at a speed too fast for conditions.  The most effective way to get your vehicle back under control when all four wheels skid is: Ease foot off the accelerator or take your foot off the brake. De-clutch on a car with manual transmission or shift to neutral on a car with an automatic transmission, if you can do so quickly. Look and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Wait for the wheels to grip the road again.  As soon as traction returns, the vehicle will travel in the desired direction. Release the clutch or shift to drive and maintain a safe speed. NOTE: Avoid using overdrive on slippery surfaces. Braking:  Braking Braking To survive on the road in winter, proper braking is essential. Stopping on slippery surfaces means motorists must increase sight lines, following and stopping distances. Beware of shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections.  These are areas where ice is likely to form first or be the most slippery. Braking if you don't have anti-lock brakes If you don't have anti-lock brakes, the most efficient technique for braking under these conditions is to use threshold braking together with de-clutching (manual shift) or shifting to neutral (automatic transmission). The best way to threshold brake (to make a controlled stop) is the heel-and-toe method.  Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use your toes to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal just short of lockup to the point at which the wheels stop turning. Under the stress of trying to stop quickly, drivers almost inevitably overreact and lock the wheels. If this happens, use toe-and-heel action to release brake pressure one or two degrees, then immediately reapply it with slightly less pressure. Braking with anti-lock brakes According to a survey conducted by the CAA/AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 50% of people are unaware of how anti-lock brakes and traditional brakes differ.  If you have an anti-lock brake system (ABS), use the heel-and-toe method, but do not remove your foot from the brake.  When you put on the brakes hard enough to make the wheels lock momentarily, you will typically feel the brake pedal pulse back against your foot. Don't let up! (Novice ABS users can try hard braking in a vacant snow-covered parking lot.) How ABS works A sensor located at each wheel detects when the wheel stops turning and starts to skid. As soon as the skid is detected, the anti-lock system relieves the pressure just enough to allow the wheel to turn again.  This allows you to steer while you continue to bring the vehicle to a stop. Jump starting :  Jump starting Position vehicles so that the batteries are close, but don’t let the vehicles touch. Make sure both vehicles are turned off. Connect one end of the RED jump lead to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Don’t let the other end of the red lead touch any metal. Connect the other end of the RED lead to the positive terminal of the boosting battery. Connect one end of the Black jump lead to the negative terminal of the boosting battery. Connect the other end of the Black lead to a bolt or metal bracket, well away from the battery on the engine block of the vehicle that is dead. Ensure that the jump leads can’t come into contact with any moving parts. Start the engine of the boosting vehicle and run it at a fast idle. Now Start the engine of the dead vehicle. Stop the engine of the boosting vehicle ONLY, and then disconnect the jump leads in the reverse order of connection. If You Are Trapped in Your Car During a Storm :  If You Are Trapped in Your Car During a Storm Stay in the car. Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow. Display a trouble sign. Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood if weather permits. Occasionally run engine to keep warm. Turn on the car's engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car's dome light when the car is running. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite. Slide13:  Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion. If you think someone has frostbite or hypothermia, begin warming the person slowly and seek medical help. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure. Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket. Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures. Slide14:  Do minor exercises to keep up circulation. Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping and huddle together. Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation. Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration “Wind Chill” is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder. Winter Car Kit:  Winter Car Kit Keep these items in your car: Flashlights with extra batteries First aid kit with pocket knife Necessary medications Several blankets Sleeping bags Extra newspapers for insulation Plastic bags (for sanitation) Matches or lighter Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap Cell phone Slide16:  Rain gear and extra clothes Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels Small shovel Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver) Booster cables Set of tire chains or traction mats Cards, games, and puzzles Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag Canned fruit and nuts (Allow for freezing) Non-electric can opener Bottled water (Allow for freezing) Coffee can survival kit for winter driving :  Coffee can survival kit for winter driving You easily can equip your vehicle with essential survival gear for winter. Here's what you'll need: A 2 or 3 pound coffee can (punch 3 holes at the top of can, equal distance apart). You'll be storing the other items inside the can. 60-inch length of twine or heavy string (cut into 3 equal pieces - used to suspend can). 3 large safety pins (tie string to safety pins and pin to car roof interior to suspend can over candle). 1 candle 2" diameter (place on lid under suspended can for melting snow). 1 pocket knife, reasonably sharp (or substitute with scissors). 3 pieces of bright cloth 2" wide x 36" long (tie to antenna or door handle). Several packets of soup, hot chocolate, tea, bouillon cubes, etc. (mixed into melted snow to provide warmth and nutrition). Plastic spoon. 1 small package of peanuts (provides protein) & fruit-flavored candy (orange slices, jelly beans, etc.-avoid chocolate). 1 pair of athletic socks (cotton) and 1 pair of glove liners (cotton). 2 packages of book matches. 1 sun shield blanket or 2 large green or black plastic leaf bags (to reflect body heat). 1 pen light and batteries (keep separate). Two quarters and two dimes for telephone calls. PNC Police Chief Bob Gaekle:  PNC Police Chief Bob Gaekle Emergency Kits found in the University vehicles.

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