How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

How to Choose the Right Car for You: Winter Safety Features

When choosing which car you may want to purchase, be sure to consider the weather.  Walking in the cold is not usually fun, and driving in it can be dangerous.  If your region gets snow and/or ice during the winter (not to mention the wind and rain of this cold season) there are some features you may want to consider that will make driving safer not only for you but for others on the road as well.

Electronic Stability Control (“ESC”)

ESC uses sensors and a microcomputer to monitor your steering. It will apply brakes or modulate engine power to help you keep control of the car. They are very effective in reducing crashes. In fact, there was a study from Highway Loss Data Institute showing that ESC reduces fatal single-vehicular crash risk by 49% for cars and SUV’s.*

Antilock Brakes (“ABS”)

This feature has been around for a while so you may already know what it does and how important it is.  Your ABS keeps your brakes from locking up which is needed on black ice or wet roads.  Think of it like an umbrella. It is better have one and not need it than need one and not have one.

Adaptive Headlights

It is very hard to drive when you cannot see the road during winter.  Adaptive headlights help to solve the problem.  They have small motors that adjust the headlights, moving them to light up where you need them most like around curves, and helping in fog and rain.

Forward Collision Warning and Auto-Braking

Sometimes reaction time is everything — the sooner you react, the more chance you can involve a crash.  This feature helps you have a faster reaction time.  If its sensors detect something is getting to close to the car, it will auto-brake to aid in avoiding a collision. This may be very helpful especially for older people or when a person gets distracted.

LED tail lights

LED lights are not only brighter but they also last longer. With LED tail lights, you can be seen easier during heavy snow, rain or fog.

Snow chains

Snow chain are not actually a “feature” per se, but they should still be considered for a car in winter.  They fit on your tires to make driving easier in the snow. They also help you maintain control of the car, and you may find it easier to drive up and down hills.


* Highway Loss Data Institute

What Should You Do If Stranded During a Blizzard

What to do if you are Stranded in a Blizzard

Imagine for a moment, you’re stranded in your car in the winter and the snow is piling up.  There could be many causes.  There are things you could have done to prevent getting stranded, but you don’t have time to dwell on those.  You have to stay warm and wait it out.  What should you do?

Make sure the exterior exhaust of the car is clear of snow. If the exhaust gets plugged up, carbon monoxide can build up.  It’s odorless, colorless and tasteless. It could kill you if you are exposed to it for too long.  Keep that exhaust clear.

If there is shelter nearby, go there.  However, if there is nothing around, the best thing to do is stay put to avoid getting lost. If it’s night time, not only can you not see, but it’s also colder which makes it even riskier to go on foot. While you are in your car, it’s good to have some blankets with you and and possibly put on some extra clothes.  You need to save gas, so only turn on the car to heat it up and then turn it off. You don’t know how long you will be there.

Make sure you have water around to keep yourself hydrated.  If water is not available, you can get some snow and melt it. Don’t eat the snow itself as it will drop your core temperature. Also, if you have a flashlight and some batteries those will be useful for other people to spot you. Flares can help in the same way.  Finally, keep your hazard lights on to make it easier for people to spot you.

Hopefully you will never have to deal with being stranded like this, but it is always good to be prepared for such an event. Drive safe everyone!

Tips for Driving During the Winter

winter driving - commuter traffic

Staying safe on the road is always important for you, your family who may be with you and also for other drivers.  Many winters offer driving challenges such as slippery roads and other instances that can cause accidents. Here are a few tips to help you win the challenge of the wintery roads.

Sleep

It is important to get enough sleep to avoid driving while fatigued. You need the extra focus during the winter months to keep an eye out for hazards like black ice (which can be tricky to spot) or other cars that may lose control. Getting plenty of sleep will also sharpen your reflexes so you can react fast enough to prevent an accident.

Make sure you have enough gas

Consider having at least a half full of tank of gas before driving out during the winter.  If you get stranded , it can be your life saver to keep you warm until help arrives.

Keep your eyes on the road

Don’t let distractions divert your attention from diving. Just keep your focus on the road. Phones are a frequent diversion. Don’t text and drive!  If your kids noise or actions are sidetracking you from driving, it is best to pull over, deal with the situation then move on.

Seat belts

There is a reason why wearing your seat belt (and having your passengers wear them too) is urged so often. Aside from the law which requires us to wear them when driving, seat belts work most of the time. They save lives! Winter months get cold and roads can (1) stay wet longer due to the lack of heat or (2) become icy so having a seat belt on while driving on ice can be a lifesaver.

Properly inflated tires

This is another recommendation that most people know all know but is easily forgotten. We get gas but sometimes we don’t think about our tires.

You should know the information about your tires, such as its size and especially your max PSI (how much air should be in your tires). Having a tire gage will help you know what psi is in your tires. When your tires are inflated properly, they perform better, and it helps them last longer.

Items You Should Have in Your Car During the Winter

Items You Should Have in Your Car During the Winter

Getting stuck in the snow is not fun, but it could happen during the cold winter days.  It it happens, you need to be prepared.  Here are a few helpful items to include in your car so your winter driving can be as stress-free as possible:

Booster cables

Booster cables should be something you keep in your car year-round but especially in winter. Having a dead battery near night time is dangerous. Not only do the temperatures drop rapidly, but also makes it harder for you to see the road. Having booster cables gives you the right tool to jump start your car.

Blankets

If you get stranded and there are no other cars around, you may be sitting in the cold for a while.  As  it gets darker, the temperature drops. It is wise to have some blankets to keep you warm until help arrives.

Flashlight and extra batteries

Having a Flashlight is another must-have item in your car year-round. Put simply, it lets you see in the dark “to help put those booster cables on.” A bright flashlight also makes it easier for people to spot/see you if it gets too dark.  Be sure to keep some extra batteries in the car and replace them periodically.

Extra clothing

Having extra winter clothes in the car is also useful for a couple of reasons. If you get stranded, you might have to walk for help.  If you have a flat tire or other situation in which you have to get out of the car during bad winter weather, it is nice to have warm, dry clothes in case you step in a puddle of partially-frozen water or slip in mud or snow.  Being cold and wet is no fun.  It’s a good idea to have extra clothing with you.

Food

Take some food with you in the car in case you are stuck waiting for help to come.  You might also consider keeping some non-perishable food in the car during the winter months as well.  Think of them as your emergency stash.  If you are in a remote area, be sure there are at least some high calorie foods in your “stash.”  Just like batteries for your flashlight, be sure to replace the foods periodically.