We can agree that no one enjoys driving in the Chicago winter. The ice, snow, and sleet make a dangerous slippery road conditions and poor visibility. In addition to that, there are an increased number of drivers on the road thanks to the holiday preparations and travel. These combinations of factors are the result of greater chances of being involved in a car accident.
Still, there’s no getting around driving: going to work or grocery shopping; you have to get behind the wheel almost every day, so we’d like to help you make sure that every journey is a safe one. So take this advice:
PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR WINTER
- Tire pressure: It’s important to check your tire pressure once a month, especially during the winter, since a tire’s pressure can drop as the air becomes colder.
- Have your battery tested: Battery capacity decreases significantly in cold weather, so it’s important to have a mechanic examine it to ensure it’s at peak performance
- Wiper blades: Look for cracks in windshields and make sure wiper blades are in working order
- Inspect headlights and brake lights
- Check your antifreeze level and the freeze line.
- Take your car in for a check-up at a mechanic to check the condition of your brakes, battery, fan belts, and spark plugs.
- Keep your gas tank above half-full to prevent your gas line from freezing.
- Winter survival kit in case you become stranded. Include an ice scraper, flashlight and extra batteries, brightly colored cloth, flares, first aid kit, shovel, jumper cables, tire chains, a bag of salt, cat litter, non-perishable food, water, a blanket, and warm clothes.
CHECK THE WEATHER
Before you walk out your door make sure you check the weather to prepare for the drive ahead. Running late in the morning happens pretty often, try to minimize this as much as possible and give yourself plenty of time in order to drive more slowly than normal. Remember that it’s better to be a few minutes late than endanger yourself and others.
If the weather is really bad, you might need extra time to warm up your car or even shovel the snow.
ADJUST YOUR DRIVING HABITS
Driving during the winter time in Chicago becomes extremely dangerous. Winter weather conditions affect our car and the roads in a few ways: they reduce visibility, prevent tires from firmly gripping on the road, and make it harder to turn, accelerate, or even decelerate quickly.
As a result, safe winter driving means adjusting our normal driving habits to accommodate for difficult conditions. The National Safety Council, AAA, and other safe driving organizations recommend the following winter driving habits.
- Use your seat belt every time you get behind the wheel. With so many accidents happening in the winter, you want to take every safety precaution you can.
- Avoid driving while tired. Winter weather conditions require you to be even more alert than normal, and fatigue reduces your reaction time.
- Accelerate, brake, and turn more slowly than normal. Snow and ice reduce the amount of traction your tires have on the road, meaning that quick acceleration, braking, and turning can lead to a skid.
- Give yourself a greater following distance. It will take you longer to stop on snowy and icy roads. Lengthening the distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you will help you avoid rear-ending someone.
- Don’t stop on a hill if you can avoid it. Going up a hill when the road is icy or snowy is extremely difficult, so avoid stopping when you can.
- Avoid stopping when you can. (Of course, this doesn’t apply when you have to obey traffic laws.) If, for example, you can slow down without stopping until a traffic light changes, do so.
- Don’t use cruise control when driving on a slippery surface, such as a wet or icy road. Cruise control can cause you to go into “auto-pilot mode.” Also, if your car begins to hydroplane (when water causes your tires to lose contact with the road), cruise control can make it worse by trying to maintain your car’s speed. You may also make the hydroplaning worse by hitting the brakes to deactivate the cruise control. Instead, keep cruise control off, and if you begin to hydroplane, take your foot off the accelerator.