Whether it’s snow, sleet, ice, or just frigid cold, winter weather can cause extremely dangerous road conditions. In Ohio, in 2023, there were over 1,200 fatalities related to motor vehicle crashes, and an estimated 22,325 injury crashes that occurred when there was snow/sleet conditions at the time of the crash. Preparing yourself – and your vehicle – for winter weather is key.
Slow down! It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside the truck. Snow plows travel slowly, make wide turns, stop often, overlap lanes, and exit the road frequently. If you find yourself behind a snow plow, stay far enough behind it and use caution if you pass the plow.
If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, stay focused on yourself and your passengers, your car, and your surroundings.
As the outside temperature drops, so does tire inflation pressure. Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which is in your owner’s manual and on a label located on the driver’s side door frame. Do not inflate your tires to the pressure listed on the tire itself. That number is the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure for the your vehicle.
Some other tips:
An inspection is not just about checking tire pressure and age. Remember to check:
If you find tire damage, take your vehicle to a tire service professional as soon as possible.
When the temperature drops, so does battery power. In cold weather, gasoline and diesel engines take more battery power to start, and electric and hybrid-electric vehicles’ driving range can be reduced. Have a mechanic check your battery, charging system, belts, and for any other needed repairs or replacements.
Familiarize yourself with the safety technologies on your vehicle and how they perform in wintry conditions. Know whether your vehicle has an antilock brake system and learn how to use it properly. Antilock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have antilock brakes, you may need to pump your brakes if you feel your wheels starting to lock up.
In colder weather, parents typically dress their children in winter coats. But it’s important to know that heavy coats can interfere with the proper harness fit on a child in a car seat. When your child will be secured in a car seat, pick thin, warm layers, and place blankets or coats around your child after the harness is snug and secure for extra warmth.
Also, make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and that any children riding with you are in the right seat for their ages and sizes.