Before Thanksgiving Day 2015, we had 7 inches of snow dumped on the ground within the Michiana Region, and with the snow fall came weather related accidents.
According to the Elkhart Truth, Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department responded to more than 20 accidents on Saturday, Nov 22, 2015 — including two with multiple injuries.
Looking back in time, who can forget the multiple car crash pile-up on January 9, 2015, which blocked the toll road from Laporte, Indiana to South Bend, Indiana?
Tip #1: Slow down – If you live in Shipshewana or Nappanee, Indiana this probably does not apply to you, because most likely you are stuck behind an Amish buggy.
For everyone else in the Michiana region please use common sense, and slow down.
As you watch the compilation video of winter crashes to the left, you’ll notice one common factor each accident shares…
… every driver seems to be driving the vehicle at the posted speed limit, and possibly even 5 miles per hour over the limit.
Slow down when visibility is low and/or when road conditions are snowy or icy – in Ice and Snow Take it Slow!
How slow? Most experts recommend at least 10 miles per hour slower than the regular posted limit.
Why slow down so much? Because, everything takes longer on snow-covered roads.
Accelerating, stopping, turning – none of these things happen as quickly as they do on dry pavement.
So, slow down and give yourself time to maneuver your car by driving slowly.
AAA Exchange recommends you also,
Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
Tip #2: Inspect your tires
You have a conundrum.
On the one hand you want to get the most out of your tires—maximum mileage, safety and wear.
On the other hand, if you wear down your tires too much they are not going to be safe.
This is especially true during poor Michiana winter driving conditions.
So, in addition to inspecting your tires, you’ll need to properly maintain them too. But don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as sounds.
In fact, Michelin offers a nice guide on what to look for when inspecting your tires.
Tip #3: Test your wipers
We all know the importance of our windshield wipers and how being about to see is critical for safe driving in any environment.
The problem, especially in Winter is that we wait until the wipers are leaving behind a trail of water, making the window blurry, and/or creating an annoying squeaky sounds, before we change them.
However, according to an article by AutoWeek, “there’s more to buying wipers than simply walking into an auto-parts store, finding a set of blades that fit and swapping them for your old pair.”
Remembering to maintain wiper blades regularly can maximize visibility, efficiency and reliability.
Wiper blades deteriorate due to many environmental factors including:
- Sun: Ultraviolet light and ozone deterioration
- Oil: Car waxes and exhaust hold rubber-deteriorating oil
- Airborne debris: Sand, mud and dust carried in the wind
- Moisture: Acid rain and salt water (in moist air both near the shore and inland)
Remember, wiper blades should be checked every six months and changed at least once a year. Evaluate both the rubber squeegee and the metal frames to avoid common problems such as streaking, skipping, chattering, wearing and splitting – all offenders of reduced visibility and slowed reaction time while driving.
While inspecting, and possibly replacing your windshield wipers, top off your wiper fluid reservoir .
In winter we recommend upgrading to a “de-icer windshield washer fluid”, so you do not have to worry about freezing the windshield while trying to keep it clean.
This is because, winter fluid has a lower freeze point and serves as a better deicer
Tip #4: Review your car’s maintenance schedule
Every car manufacturer provides a maintenance schedule within the Owner’s Manual. It is wise to check it out and make certain everything is up to date, before bigger snow falls and lake effect snow conditions arrive in January, February, and March.
According to Edmunds, “the car’s service manual is the best way to learn how to maintain your car. It was written by the factory representatives who designed and built the car. It stands to reason that they should also know how best to keep everything running smoothly.”
In addition to being a safety protocol, Brian Alexander suggests on Driverside.com that …
Regular maintenance will ensure your vehicle remains as problem-free as possible and help retain its resale value.
Tip #5: Test your battery
Car battery are more susceptible to dying to cooler winter.In fact according to Intersate Battery, “your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.”
Real damage can result when a depleted battery’s electrolyte meets freezing temps, cracking the internals and case.
According to Road and Truck Magazine, proper battery storage with a charger avoids this problems.
Sometimes so is more cost effective this buying a new battery each year. So, be sure to test your battery. And, replace if necessary.
Tip #6: Check your coolant
The last thing you want happening on a snowy road is over heating your engine and having a thermostat lock-up on you.
Your anti-freeze coolant helps prevent this.
Tip #7 Inflate your tires –
You might even consider buying winter tires.
Even if you have ABS brakes which prevents “locking-up” the brakes by “pulsing” them as you apply pressure to the pedal.
Remember that the tires on your vehicle supply the traction and help the ABS deliver faster stops. Tires built with better winter traction will improve overall braking performance on ice, snow, and cold roads.
Winter tires have special rubber compounds designed to improve traction, handling and braking in all cold weather conditions, not just ice and snow.
Tips #8 Consider an overall check-up
Having your vehicle inspected by a professional is important.
Tip #9 Have an emergency kit
Even the most carefully driver still occasionally find themselves in emergency situations.
Tip #10 Lower the radio
It sounds crazy, but, your brain will actually concentrate better if you do.
Tip #11 Avoid conversations
While talking to a passenger, or via bluetooth is not against the law, it can still lead to distracted driving.
Tip #12 Have your insurance agents number handy
Okay a cheap plug here, but, even though only one insurance agency has the slogan “like a neighbor neighbor … blank – blank … in there”, most insurance agents are here to help you. So, put your agents number in your phone, but, also in your wallet in case your phone is not able to work properly from the location you are calling.
Bonus Tip of Commercial Truck and School Bus Drivers
Make sure your mechanic, or MRO inspect is checking the lug nuts and frame U-bolts on your vehicle with a calibrated torque wrench to ensure proper tightening.