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Get ready for winter driving

By Staff | Oct 24, 2009

We almost forgot about winter – and driving – but it’s about this same time every year when Mother Nature reminds us.

That’s what happened Friday when the first significant snow of the year hit Emmet County. From Wallingford south, it was a regular storm.

It’s a good time then to remind ourselves about winter driving tips.

First of all, slow down. If you’re supposed to leave two seconds of space between yourself and other vehicles with good driving conditions, increase that to four seconds in snow and eight seconds on ice. And remember that while you might be in control of your car that doesn’t guarantee the person ahead of you does. So drive defensively and be ready for the worst.

An oh, that person on your back bumper? Remember that YOU are the one responsible for controlling YOUR vehicle. If you let that tailgater intimidate you into going faster than conditions permit, if you have an accident it will be your fault and not the tailgaters.

Make sure you wipers are in good working condition. If you see streaks, the wiper blade probably needs to be replaced. So replace those wiper blades now rather than having to drive half-blind during the next snow storm.

Here’s another tip too about wipers. If you park outside, put a cover over your windshield and between the windshield and hood. That could save you a good chunk of change for fixing a broken wiper arm or a burnt-out wiper motor.

Make sure your battery holds a full charge. Unfortunately, most people figure that out the first cold day of winter. So the next time you change your oil, ask the mechanic to check your battery. And if you park your car outside, consider installing a tank, oil pan, or dipstick heater.

Also check your tire tread. Use this poem to remember how to check tread depth:

If you stick a penny in the tread,

it should reach the top of Lincoln’s head.

As always, carrying a winter survival kit is a good idea. That kit would include a flashlight, heavy blanket or sleeping bag, high-energy foods, water, and if possible, a hand-warmer.

And if you’re going to take an extended trip, always check weather conditions first. And keep your radio tuned to a station that has hourly weather reports.

So don’t let yourself get caught out in the cold this winter.

It will be long enough the way it is.