Hints & HELP!
Car Maintenance, Safe Driving Tips Help Motorists Prepare
for Winter Driving
by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the January
4, 2004 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.
Just as important as preparing your home for winter is being
prepared for winter driving. Snow and ice can make driving
Before winter travel, it's a good idea to have vehicles
thoroughly serviced, including checking the battery, alternator
and charging system, heater and defroster, lights, wipers,
brakes, anti-skid braking systems, cooling systems, belts,
hoses and antifreeze.
addition, motorists should check their tires and set them
to proper pressure. Replace tires if treads are worn down.
It may be helpful to install all-season or snow tires or
consider tire chains if most travel is on unpaved roads.
often add weight to their vehicles, believing this will
improve traction. However, adding sandbags or weights in
the trunk of a front-wheel drive vehicle or pickup bed only
makes it heavier and increases stopping distances. However,
weights in pickup beds may improve startup capability.
If motorists choose to add weight in any form, they should
secure it to avoid shifting during sudden stops or sharp
possible, people should avoid traveling during bad weather.
Check weather forecasts before traveling or dial 511 on
a mobile or stationary phone to access the Nebraska State
Patrol's automated road condition system. If travel is necessary,
drive slow on wet, icy or snow-packed roads since it takes
longer to stop. Skids can result from one or more wheels
locking up. Make smooth, slow steering corrections, and
accelerate and brake gently. Some cars are equipped with
anti-lock or anti-skid braking systems, which can dramatically
increase stopping distances, but allow drivers to maintain
directional control. If the system activates, maintain steady
pressure on the brake pedal. Don't pump the brake pedal
unless the automobile doesn't have an anti-skid system.
front- or all-wheel drive vehicles begin to skid, drivers
should steer in the direction they want to go and maintain
speed until the vehicle is under control. For rear-wheel
drives, motorists should gently steer in the direction of
the skid and slowly ease up on the accelerator. In all cases,
don't brake until there is directional control, then brake
drives may create a false sense of control on wet or icy
surfaces. Drivers are much more likely to drive too fast
for conditions in four- or all-wheel drive vehicles. In
addition, steering response can change when four-wheel drive
systems are engaged, but it does not reduce stopping distances.
If one wheel drops off the edge of the pavement or onto
a soft shoulder, don't attempt to steer back on the road
until the car can be slowed down and maintain directional
control. If the automobile slides completely off the roadway,
attempt to maintain directional control. Steer to avoid
hitting objects such as utility poles, bridge supports and
trees. It's better to hit softer objects like guard rails,
brush or wire fences to prevent high energy impacts.
the car becomes stuck or stalls, stay in the vehicle unless
it is dangerous to do so. Blowing snow can be disorienting
and cold temperatures can cause hypothermia.
addition, it's much easier for searchers to locate a car
than a person. Motorists should call 911 if they are involved
in an accident. Nebraska travelers can also (800) 525-5555
to report collisions, dangerous drivers, road hazards and
other highway emergencies to the Nebraska State Patrol.
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