WINTER DRIVING TIPS

Driving

When snow and ice cover the streets, your first impulse each morning is to crawl back under the covers. Who wants to think about shoveling the driveway or scraping ice off the windshield of a vehicle parked outside on the street? Who wants to sit in a cold car? Nevertheless, you have to go to work.

Maybe you could call in sick. What will you tell the boss? What excuse can you give? Could you lie and say your car won’t start? No, you’ve used that excuse before. Could you say you have a terrible fever? How high? You could say 109 degrees. You don’t know that the highest fever someone can have before suffering severe brain damage is 108. Your boss, a nursing supervisor, would know that.

Well, what other excuse could you use? Blame an insect. You could say, “I got stung by a bee.” No, don’t use that one. Remember your boss, the nursing supervisor, knows about allergic reactions and EpiPens. How about, “I think I have the swine flu.” Are you stupid? You are talking to a nurse! Try, “I have the hiccups.” No, not that excuse either. She will have a thousand cures for hiccups.

It might just be easier to go in to work. Besides, you don’t want to start the day lying to your boss. Even little kids know telling a lie is wrong. Don’t you remember chanting “Liar, liar, pants on fire. Nose as long as a telephone wire.”

AAA, formerly known as the American Automobile Association, recommends the following winter driving tips:

  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Never run a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Always look and steer where you want to go.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning—nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal. It’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated. In cars without ABS, use “threshold” braking, keeping your heel on the floorboard and using the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

To see a YouTube video by AAA, go to Tips for Safe Winter Driving at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5LkTkW3TDY.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are unable to access a video by using the link, type the name of the video into your search engine.

—Karen Centowski

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