Winter Is Coming: How Drivers Can Prepare

The National Safety Council encourages drivers to plan ahead! Winter is coming whether we like it or not. Winter driving is different. In Buffalo in the winter time, blizzards can come out of nowhere. Icy conditions happen as often as not. While newer model cars have more and more safety features, there are still steps all drivers should take to minimize danger and maximize safety.

Create a Winter Safety Kit
Don’t wait for the first snow fall to create a winter safety kit for your car. As a starting point, make it a goal to always have a full or almost full tank of gas. Never let the gas tank get below half full in the winter time. Also, make sure your car has fresh antifreeze and plenty of wind shield fluid. Finally, take a moment to ensure your spare tire is properly inflated, you have a wheel wrench, and a working tripod jack.
Your emergency safety kit within your car should also include the following items:
• A shovel for digging out of snow;
• Jumper cables;
• A tow line;
• Bag of salt to melt snow;
•Kitty litter for increased tire traction;
• Blankets;
• Mittens;
• Hats;
• Warm socks;
• Boots, if the driver doesn’t wear boots in the car as a matter of course;
• Tool kit;
• Nonperishable foods like nuts, dried fruits, and granola bars;
• Flashlight, along with fresh batteries;
• Scissors and twine;
• Reflective triangles;
• Wood matches in a waterproof container;
• Flares;
• Ice scraper;
• First aid kit;
• Portable phone charger (make sure it is fully charged!);
• Snow brush; and
• Compass.

Give Your Car a Winter Weather Check
It is a good idea to have a qualified mechanic review your vehicle systems before winter arrives. They should check the ignition, brakes, spark plugs, hoses, and fan belts. They should also check wiring, the battery, the distributor, air filters, fuel filters, and emission filters. Finally, they should check the PCV valve, the battery, air pressure in the tires, tire wear patterns, and the antifreeze level. A few dollars of preventative maintenance can go a long way this winter when the temperature drops.

Before You Leave. . .
Any time the weather gets really cold, it’s natural to want to warm up the car before taking a trip. While warming up a car ahead of time is fine, never warm up the car in an enclosed area. Even if the garage door is open, it is not safe to leave a car running in an attached garage. Rather, let the car warm up out in the open, in the drive way or in front of the house.
When the weather appears dangerous or unpredictable, consider waiting out the storm. If that is not possible, make sure you inform a family member or friend of your planned route. Call them when you arrive safely. In the unlikely event your car goes off the road or is involved in a crash, knowing your route can shave valuable minutes off rescue efforts.
If you find yourself stranded in an unfamiliar area, the National Safety Council recommends you don’t leave your car. Instead, remove the flares from your winter tool kit and light them. Place the flares in front of and behind your car. Take a moment to make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by snow, garbage, mud, or other objects.

If You Get Hurt in a Crash
In winter driving, crashes are inevitable. While we hope you never need us, The O’Brien Firm is here for you if you do. If you have been hurt in a crash, we will come to you to meet with you and discuss your case. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.