The snow Salt Lake sees every winter is bad enough to walk through, but driving in it can be a dangerous activity that claims dozens of lives every year. With all of the potential accidents, car problems and other predicaments that can happen, snow is high on the list of stressors for many Utahns. For those who are worried about this upcoming winter, The Globe has created a list of tips for how to drive safely this season.
1. Don’t warm up your car for too long
Unless your car engine has a carburetor, prolonged idling can actually increase the wear and tear on a motor. Instead of warming up your vehicle, start your car and let it run long enough for you to remove any snow or ice. Remember to follow any local idling ordinances, and to avoid the risk of theft, do not leave your vehicle unattended while idling.
2. Clean your car before you drive
Keep a snow brush and ice scraper inside your vehicle in case you need to remove any frost or snow from the windows, and be sure to sweep any snow off your vehicle so it doesn’t blow off when you drive. Drivers may also want to carry a bottle of lock deicer, as the cold will often freeze the door locks on older vehicles.
3. Drive slower than usual — and don’t slam your brakes
Slippery roads can make it difficult to control your car. Be sure to use the brakes a little earlier than necessary, applying them gradually to come to an even, controlled stop. Snow tires are also a good way to avoid accidents on the road. And remember, bridges freeze with black ice before roads because they are more exposed to the cold air.
4. Keep essential repair tools in your car
If you haven’t already, prepare your car with the tools you will need for basic maintenance, such as a small tool kit, jumper cables, a lug wrench and jack. Many people also find it good practice to keep a small shovel in their car, along with cat litter or sand for traction, which are incredibly useful in becoming unstuck from the snow.
5. Store warm clothing and other emergency items
Drivers should pack anything from an extra winter jacket to some instant hand warmers if their vehicle becomes disabled and cannot produce heat. In case of an emergency, be sure to have a first aid kit, a working cell phone and phone charger on hand. Packing food and water can also help if lost for several hours. As the days darken much faster in the winter, a flashlight is also recommended.
As long as you are prepared, and use good judgement, you’ll make it through the winter.