(BPT) – As drivers bundle up to take on Old Man Winter this season, having a few tricks up your sleeve can be a big help in keeping your cool on the road. Here are five hacks for battling the elements and staying safe on the roads.
Got stuck? Snow problem!
Hazardous winter weather requires that drivers take additional precautions. According to the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index, 72 percent of drivers indicated they would not want to drive in icy conditions. Further, 84 percent of Americans recognize the dangers of black ice, the most dangerous weather condition for driving.
If you find yourself stuck in the snow and ice, apply a bag of cat litter or sand under your wheels to provide much-needed traction to get out of a snowy situation. As an added bonus, the additional weight over the rear axle (especially for trucks and rear-wheel-drive cars) will further add traction. Floor mats can also come in handy. Place them under your tires in the direction you’re looking to travel. The mats create a mini runway of traction for your vehicle.
Here comes the sun
When the snow starts to pile on the driveway, nearly a quarter of Americans (24 percent) rely on someone else to dig their vehicles out of the snow, according to the Gauge Index. In fact, 18 percent simply wait for the snow to melt! To help with the backbreaking chore, park your vehicle overnight facing east. The rising sun can help melt the snow before you even get out of bed.
Raid the pantry
By using some items commonly found in your pantry, you can make your morning routines that much easier. For example, fit resealable freezer bags over your side-view mirrors to help prevent ice from forming. Other household items like cooking spray can also help melt ice. Spray it on your mirrors, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe off the ice. You also can apply the spray to the rubber seals of your door on particularly cold nights. This will help keep your door from freezing shut or damaging the rubber seals if you force open the door.
Right tools for the job
When the going gets rough, it’s important to make sure your car is well equipped for the conditions you’re driving in. As temperatures drop, so can your tire pressure, decreasing about one psi for every 10-degree drop in temperature. If your car was built after 2000, you likely have a Tire Pressure Monitor System that will alert you when pressure drops below the manufacturer’s recommended levels for your vehicle. It’s also important to be able to identify the TPMS symbol, as the Hankook Gauge Index found that 1 in 3 (35 percent) Americans do not know what the warning symbol means.
With 13 percent of drivers unsure of what category tire is on their car, understanding the difference in how a snow tire performs in relation to its summer and all-season relatives can go a long way in terms of safety and performance. For enhanced traction in low-grip situations, tire chains can be very useful, but as indicated in the Gauge Index, 65 percent of drivers are unsure how to install them. Be sure to practice once or twice at home before venturing out on wintry roads. And when you have chains on your tires, drive slowly – generally no more than 30 mph.
Always carry a spare … pair of socks!
Packing emergency clothes in your trunk is always a great idea should you find yourself stranded and in need of extra warmth. Interestingly, your socks may be your most versatile piece of clothing, and drivers can benefit from carrying an extra pair in the glove compartment. When expecting snow, simply lift your windshield wipers off the glass and place a sock over each blade to help keep snow off the blades and ice from forming. Additionally, when socks are put over your shoes (yes, that’s right) they can provide an added level of traction when walking on ice.
Hopefully, some of these tricks can help if you find yourself locked in a battle with the elements this season. Have a favorite winter hack we missed? Let us know at Hankook USA on Facebook or Twitter with the #WinterHack tag!
* We all dread it, but winter weather driving is part of life in Minnesota.
Road conditions can become extremely dangerous with little warning. That’s why it’s crucial to be prepared and patient.
Stay safe while on the road in the winter:
-Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are too poor.
-Buckle up, and make sure child restraints are secured tightly. It is recommended to use bulky clothes and blankets on top of the child restraint harness, not beneath, to ensure harness restraints fit properly.
-Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and provide for plenty of travel time.
-Increase safe stopping distance between vehicles.
-Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows.
-If skidding, remain calm, ease foot off the gas, and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.
-If vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply a steady firm pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump ABS brakes.
-Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals.
-Headlights must be turned on when it is snowing or sleeting.
-Do not use cruise control on snow/icy/wet roads.
-Equip vehicles with a scraper/brush, small shovel, jumper cables, tow chain, and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. Blanket(s), heavy boots, warm clothing and flashlights are also important, as are storing high-energy foods such as chocolate or energy bars.
-Be sure cell phones are charged for long trips, and inform family of destination plans and schedule.
-If stranded, stay in the vehicle.
-Parents of teen drivers should make sure new motorists experience snow and ice driving in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot.
For weather-related road condition information, call 5-1-1 or visit www.511mn.org.
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