5 Essential Tips For Safe Winter Driving
Be Prepared When Mother Nature Unleashes Her Fury
After my recent move to the higher elevations of North Carolina, I’ve quickly discovered a lot more about Mother Nature and the need to be familiar with essential winter driving safety tips.
The most important lesson I’ve learned?
Mother Nature is two-faced! She can be sweet and warm one day and spitting icy stones the next. And that’s ok. No matter where you live though, don’t ever underestimate Mother Nature, especially in the winter.
So what are people to do? They channel their inner Boy or Girl Scout and do everything they can to always be prepared!
In an effort to follow my own advice by preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, here are 5 tips for safer driving during the winter months if you live where Mother Nature doesn’t always play nice.
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I have had several experiences where I’ve thought I was prepared, but in hindsight, I could have done so much more.
I remember the time I stuck on a lonely stretch of highway, seriously needing a restroom when my daughter and I were headed across the country to Colorado.
I thought I was prepared because I had made sure to get new tires for my car before leaving. I had gotten the oil changed and all fluids checked. Anti-freeze? Check! Windshield wiper fluid? Check! Air pressure in tires? Check!
But despite all of my efforts, I still wasn’t prepared for what would turn out to be a freak snow storm that nearly shut down the interstate. The highway patrol officer’s advice was, “I don’t know what to tell you ma’am. Turn around, find a parking lot, and wait it out.” What? Wait in a car for who knows how long, when I seriously need a restroom? No thank you! Time to get more prepared!
Be More Prepared
To be more prepared, keep a small tote or cooler in the car filled with non-perishable snacks and bottled water. A wool blanket that’s stored in the trunk would be useful if you are stranded without being able to run the engine for heat.
And believe it or not, an extra pair of socks just might save your life in an emergency situation!
And when you have to “go,” The Tinkle Belle provides women with a great option when there’s not a toilet anywhere in sight.
I’ve had personal experience with this nifty little contraption, and it’s perfect for use while stuck in a storm. You can check it out how you can go like a pro here. And luckily for my male companions, any empty bottle should suffice.
Additionally, keep a small bag of cat litter in the car to help with traction in case you get stuck. Like I said before, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
There are some amazing map and driving apps out there that can help you navigate traffic and back roads.
If you’re looking for something other than Mapquest, Waze, or Google Maps, you may want to give these a try.
Getting around town is easier and more personal with HERE WeGo. Use offline maps to navigate without an internet connection. Get directions and other info you need to go from A to B your way, even if it’s down a road less traveled. HERE WeGo is available in iTunes for iOS and Google Play for Android.
Another choice that might get you out of a snowy situation is MapFactor. It includes basic navigation, GPS features and uses OpenStreetMap which means you can get free offline maps that are updated monthly. There are additional map options, but they may cost money. Some of the other features include voice directions, 2D and 3D modes, day and night themes, and more. MapFactor is also available for iOS and Android.
Either of these apps can be your best friend when it’s time to get off the beaten path and find a scarier, less-plowed option (see “get good tires” tip above and snag a sweet cash back Ebates deal on practically everything you need to buy!)
Be In Touch
Eliminate those pesky “Where are you?” and “What’s your ETA?” texts with the Life360 app. The state-of-the-art GPS location technology reports the real-time whereabouts of those that have accepted your invitation to join your circle and share their location.
Simply install the Life360 Family Locator app on your phone and invite your family. Once registered, each member appears as a unique icon on the navigational map so you’ll know exactly where they are. Life360 is available for iOS as well as Android.
Make sure your car is equipped with the necessary charger(s) and auxiliary cords too. I even go as far as traveling with a power pack which can charge phones when there are no other options.
Know when to call it quits. Calculate your risk and tolerance if you might be stranded in the winter weather for hours on end.
If you have no children in tow and are listening to a binge-worthy podcast with a full tank of gas, then hit the road. Just be mentally prepared for the potential of sitting in the car for hours (or longer) and enjoy.
If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, have a packed bag and stowed in your car with basic overnight provisions and get a hotel!
I hope you’re never in a situation such as this but if you are, you have these tips to think about make yourself better prepared.
These ideas come from my own experiences, as well as the not-so-tall tales of fellow travelers. I hope you find them useful in case Mother Nature decides to unleash her fury on your road trip.
What are some ideas that have helped you while driving during the winter months? Please let us know in a comment below because your experience just might keep someone else out of a life-threatening situation.
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