6 Winter Driving and Car Safety Tips for Pacific Northwesterners

 

Seattle’s mountain panorama is snow-capped and stunning, especially when winter arrives. But this enhancement in natural beauty comes with some potential dangers: weather-related automobile accidents.

About 22% of collisions stem from adverse weather, particularly wet pavement, rainfall, snowstorms, and icy roads. Because of Washington’s cold, wet winters, you have to be exceptionally cautious on the road every winter. To help you do that, we’ve created a list of winter driving and car safety tips. Here’s what we recommend.

1. Ask a Trustworthy Mechanic to Inspect Your Battery and Your Tires

Cold temperatures drain your car battery. The colder it is, the more battery power your car needs to start. Over the course of the long winter, it’s common for batteries to die. Unfortunately, that can leave you stranded in the middle of a snowstorm.

Ask your mechanic to inspect your battery’s belts and charging system. Don’t wait to make system repairs or to replace the battery. Sometimes all you have to do is tighten the cable connections. Once your battery is in tip-top condition, purchase a set of jumper cables. These could help you jump start your car, or another person’s, in case of an emergency.

Most auto centers offer free tire inspections. Make an appointment to get your tire treads looked at before you drive in the snow.

2. Check Your Vehicle’s Coolant System

As winter sets in, it’s time to get your engine coolant flushed. You want to learn if your coolant system has any leaks. If it does, coolant will freeze and expand, causing serious harm to your engine.

Most vehicles rely on a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water. Find out what your car needs, and ask your mechanic to top you off after the system flush.

3. Replace Your Windshield Wipers and Fill Up Your Windshield Fluid Reservoir

Native Washingtonians know they need winter-specific windshield wipers. If you haven’t installed them, do so before the snow starts to fall. Fill up your windshield washer fluid, and keep an extra bottle of it in your vehicle.

4. Pack a Winter Survival Kit in Your Vehicle

Though it’s likely you’ll never use it, create an ultimate winter survival kit for your car. Include water, non-perishable food, blankets, and flares. Store a flashlight, snow shovel, ice scraper, and broom. Consider stashing a small bag of sand or kitty litter as well. These abrasive materials provide your tires the traction they need to get you out of the snow.

5. Give Yourself Time to Travel and Give Someone Your Estimated Time of Arrival

Rushing creates risk. If you’re speeding in inclement weather, then you’re increasing your odds of losing control of your vehicle. To keep yourself safe, take your time. Check the road conditions and the weather before you leave. Give yourself extra time to get from your location to your destination so you aren’t tempted to speed on slick roads. Then, communicate your travel plans and your estimated time of arrival to someone you trust.

6. Don’t Make Sudden, Aggressive Movements, Including Speeding, Braking, and Cornering

Sudden movements disrupt your vehicle’s dynamics. They shift weight from one part of the car to the other, throwing your vehicle off balance or making it slide. Apply your brakes gently, and give your car enough braking distance to slow down. Drive at a reduced speed, and take corners slowly as well. These defensive driving tactics will utilize your tires’ tread and help you avoid an accident.

If you do get injured in an automobile collision this winter, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A free consultation with a reputable firm can help you determine if the other driver was negligent, giving you the chance to receive compensation.