Winter time is upon us, and with it comes the challenges of driving in snow and icy conditions. When driving in adverse weather conditions there are many helpful safety tips given to help drivers get to their destinations without incidents. Three things I always try to remember in winter weather are preparation, patience, and performance.  

Preparation includes having a vehicle that is in optimal condition. Tires should be in good condition and properly inflated to handle the snow, water, and icy roads can be a critical factor for safe driving. All fluids should be checked and filled to the proper levels including that all important washer fluid. In areas where deicers like magnesium chloride are used, you don’t want to run out of washer fluid or your visibility could be totally smeared by the splash of the deicing materials used on the roads. It’s a good idea to carry an extra gallon of washer fluid along with you in the winter as well, and make sure it is winter rated so it won’t freeze. It’s critical to keep the wiper blades in good working condition as well. Jumper cables, a snow/ice scraper, a snow shovel and some sand or cat litter, even some nonperishable food and a thermal blanket are some of the basic supplies that many agencies recommend carrying in the winter.

Fill that gas tank up before the storm hits! More gas means more weight, which can give your vehicle better traction. Also, a gas tank that is nearly empty is more susceptible to condensation which can form in the tank and then freeze in your fuel lines, possibly causing your engine to be difficult or even unable to start. A full tank is a happy tank!
Clean your vehicle off! I shake my head in amusement sometimes when I see a car driving down the road with a small area of their windshield cleaned off and the rest of the car covered in ice and snow. It may look funny, but it is very unsafe.   

When winter weather comes blowing in, the change can be sudden and sometimes dramatic. Here in Colorado, it is not unusual for the temperatures to drop 30 or 40 degrees in a very short period of time. Even with these dramatic and quick changes, you can be prepared by monitoring weather conditions using all the multimedia resources that are available today.  

Patience is required in all driving situations, but particularly in bad weather. The challenges of safe driving become even greater in snow and icy conditions. Not all people have experienced driving in winter weather. But even with winter driving experience, we all must practice more patience and increase our awareness. Traffic slows down in bad weather which can cause others to become impatient. Since the road conditions are compromised in winter weather, planning your drive becomes even more essential. Allowing extra time is a key aspect in winter driving. Drivers should not expect to be able to get to their destination in the same amount of time as they do on dry clear roads. Time management is a factor in many accidents. 

Performance in bad weather driving is an extremely critical aspect of safely negotiating the roadways that are covered with snow and ice. We need to handle our vehicles more gently-easy on the brakes and accelerator, smooth easy turns and lane changes, and much slower speeds than under normal conditions. More following distances will give you a safe space cushion from other vehicles, and also help cut down on the amount of road spray that splashes up on your windshield. Allowing extra time for traveling, keeping your focus, and helping others by being courteous and safe, can make a potentially dangerous and miserable ride much easier to handle for yourself and everyone around you. 

Driving in bad weather presents many challenges, but being prepared, patient, and performing at a higher level, we can increase our level of safety. Yes, the weather outside can be frightful-but we can still safely get home to where the fire is so delightful! Safe travels everyone!