10 Tips for Safe Driving in Winter Weather

Winter brings some of our most hazardous driving conditions. Snow, sleet and ice -- especially
hard-to-see black ice -- make our roads more dangerous, while cold temperatures can lead to
dead batteries and frozen wipe fluid. There's nothing we can do about the weather, but these ten
tips will help reduce your risk when venturing out this winter:

1. Get a winter-ready tune-up. You'll want to check the tread on your tires (at least 3/16
of an inch helps with traction on snowy roads), top up all your fluids, and be sure you're
working with a good battery. This is also a good time to get your brakes checked and
replace old wipers. Call our service department for more information, or to schedule your
winter tune-up: 703-669-6000.
2. Keep plenty of wiper fluid on hand. If you've completed tip #1, you've already topped
off your windshield wiper fluid reservoir. But, it's still good to carry extra fluid with
you in the winter, especially on longer road trips. We tend to use more wiper fluid in the
winter months, and you don't want to get caught with an empty reservoir during the midst
of a nasty winter storm.
3. Check the weather forecast. This tip is especially important if you're planning a long
road trip, but it's good practice even if you're just heading out to run a few errands. Road
conditions can change rapidly during winter weather events. Plan ahead.
4. Carry an emergency kit. Flares, jumper cables, a warm blanket, and a flashlight should
be in every car emergency kit. During the winter, it's also a good idea to always travel
with a sturdy ice scraper and/or snow brush, a shovel, and a bag of sand for traction if
you get stuck. A cell phone charger and some food and water would also be a good idea.
5. Reduce your speed. This applies to both accelerating and decelerating; everything
should be done slower and with more care on slippery winter roads. A good rule of
thumb is to reduce your speed by half in poor driving conditions, and to start braking at
twice the distance you would in dry-road driving conditions.
6. Increase your following distance. In normal conditions, safety experts recommend we
follow cars at a minimum three to four second distance (meaning, it would take three
to four seconds to close the gap between the two vehicles if the front vehicle suddenly
stopped moving). When road conditions are poor, it's best to increase that following
distance to 10 seconds or more.
7. Brake with care. This starts with knowing your car. If you have ABS brakes, you'll
want to apply firm and steady pressure to the brake pedal. The brakes will pulse on and
off, reducing your risk of a skid. If your car does not have ABS, however, you will need
provide that pulsing yourself. Keep your heel on the floor, and use the ball of your foot to
apply steady pressure to the brake. Then, when you feel the wheels stop moving, release
the brake pedal for a moment. Repeat.
8. Know how to recover from a skid. The first thing is to avoid panic. Remove your foot
from the gas and the brake. Look and steer slowly in the direction that you want to travel.
As the car realigns, you may need to adjust your steering to prevent a skid in the opposite
direction. Do not brake or accelerate until you are completely out of the skid.
9. Stay with your car. If you do get stuck, please stay with the car. Attach a bright piece of

fabric or a plastic bag to your antenna or your window to single distress. If it is after dark,
turn on your overhead dome light -- it draws very little energy from your battery, and
makes your car much easier to see by potential rescuers.
10. Know when to stay home. Sometimes the roads are just too hazardous, and no amount
of careful driving will make them safe. Even if you trust your winter-driving skills,
remember that you can't necessarily trust the skills of everyone else on the road. Plus, by
staying home in bad weather conditions, you make it much easier for the plow drivers
and emergency workers to do their jobs.

Most of these tips are up to you, but our service center is ready to help with your winter-ready
tune-up. Give us a call today to schedule your tune-up: 703-669-6000.

Check out these online resources for more winter driving safety tips:
§ AAA: Winter Driving Tips [http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-
driving-tips/]
§ Edmunds: Driving on Snow and Ice [http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/driving-on-
snow-and-ice-10-safety-tips.html]
§ Car Talk: Winter Driving Tips [http://www.cartalk.com/content/winter-driving-tips-7]
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