When the temperatures drop, Oklahoma delivers the inevitable “winter mix” of ice and snow that can be a challenge for drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that as many as 17% of all car accidents are the result of winter conditions. Being stuck on the roads in the freezing cold is never fun, so it helps to be as prepared as possible. Here are several tips to help ensure that you remain safe when you set out on the roads during the coldest months of the year.
Prepare an Emergency Road Kit
There are certain items that you should have stored in your vehicle, ready for that emergency that may never (but could) arrive. An auto emergency kit should contain the following items:
- Jumper cables
- First aid kit
- Ice scraper, de-icer, and snow brush
- Small shovel for digging out a vehicle stuck in the snow
- Sand or cat litter to use for traction
- Basic hand tools
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Emergency blanket
Other Items to Pack in Your Car
Provided you are doing any driving that is more than a mile from civilization or late at night, you’re going to need to beef up the provisions that you keep in your vehicle during the winter months. The last thing you want is to get stuck in bad weather on the side of the road with no way to stay warm or call for help. If this is even a remote possibility, expand your winter emergency kit to include:
- A car charger or extra battery for your cell phone
- Warm clothes
- Gloves, hats, and extra blankets
Map Your Route
Are you planning on going out-of-town in around the holidays or in the winter? Take the time to map out your route, particularly during the winter months when roads and traffic could be a challenge. Most of us use either our vehicle or smartphone GPS as a guide. Either way, see if there are alternate routes available in the event that traffic becomes congested due to icy roads, accidents, or both. If possible, you should plan for extra driving time during bad weather as well since safety dictates that vehicles travel slower on wet roads.
Be Weather Aware
Is there any phrase more Oklahoman than “weather aware?” You should always know the weather conditions along your route and what the forecast is for your destination, whether you’re commuting to and from work or traveling with the family. If you’re traveling any distance, it’s not enough to just know what the weather is like at home. Use an App such as Weather Underground to get the latest and forecasted conditions in any area of your choice.
Driving on icy and snow-covered roads is stressful enough, and breakdowns can occur in the worst conditions. Use these guidelines to make sure that you are prepared to handle any vehicle situation in the cold weather and it will give you and your loved ones additional peace of mind.