Are you ready for winter this year? If you aren’t, it’s time to prepare: meteorologists are warning us to expect a “polar coaster” of unpredictable winter weather.

With most of the country gearing up for snow, ice, and freezing rain, it’s time to think about the topic of road safety.

21% of auto accidents in the United States can be attributed to bad weather conditions like these. So if you want to stay safe on the highways this holiday season, read on for some tips on how to drive in snow and ice.

1. Keep a Winter Kit in Your Car

Don’t let yourself get caught unprepared! Keep a winter kit in your trunk with items like:

  • Sand or cat litter (for traction if you get stuck)
  • Warm clothes and outerwear
  • A first aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Portable air compressor
  • A snow shovel

If you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall, you may also want to keep snow chains in your car.

2. Stay Up on Maintenance

No one wants to deal with a broken-down car in the cold. So before the bad weather hits, make sure you’re up to date on all of your maintenance, including:

  • Oil and filter changes
  • Replacing burnt-out bulbs
  • Checking your battery
  • Replacing old tires and checking tire pressure

A little preventative action now can save you a lot of trouble later on.

3. Don’t Skimp on Gasoline

Unless you want to run out of gas in the middle of a freeway, it’s never a good idea to run on less than a quarter tank. But in the winter, waiting too long between trips to the pump can cause some serious problems.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your tank 1/2 full at all times. While the chances of your gasoline freezing are pretty low, condensation in your tank and fuel lines can freeze and keep your car from starting up. The extra weight from a full tank can also improve your traction.

4. Spend Time Learning How to Drive in Snow and Ice

While this tip is especially true for new drivers, everyone can use a refresher course on winter driving.

First things first, remember that while four-wheel drive will help you move through the snow, it won’t help you stop. As such, it’s important to always give yourself more time to slow down than you think you’ll need.

Next, learn how to handle your car while turning in the snow. It doesn’t take more than an inch or two to cause wheelspin or fishtailing, especially if there’s ice underneath.

And remember, if the road looks wet when it’s cold outside, it’s likely black ice. Proceed with caution—keep your steering wheel straight, let up off the gas, and don’t slam on the breaks. If it looks like you’re going to slide through an intersection, sound your horn to give other drivers time to react.

5. When in Doubt, Stay Home

Finally, if you have any doubts about how dangerous the road conditions are, stay inside. Stock up on non-perishable food items like dried beans, rice, and canned fruits and veggies so you don’t have to run to the store in a snowstorm. Snuggle up with some hot cocoa and enjoy the night in!

Staying Safe on the Roads This Winter

Following these tips for how to drive in snow and ice will help you stay safe during your winter travel. But no matter how hard we work to prevent accidents, they still happen sometimes. If you’ve been injured in a car accident around Sacramento, contact us to get your legal questions answered.