Tune-up Your Car and Driving Skills as Winter Weather Arrives in Ohio

You drive over a patch of black ice. Do you know what to do? Your tires are bald, it’s icy outside. Is it safe to drive? Your car breaks down in a desolate area. Do you have the proper items in your vehicle to survive? Being prepared for winter weather also pertains to your vehicle and knowing how to drive in blustery weather.
 
“Officially, it is still fall, but winter weather has already arrived. If you must be out during severe winter weather, knowing how to operate your vehicle can help you arrive safely at your destination,” said Jillian Drew, Greene County Safe Communities Coordinator. “Make sure your vehicle is in proper working order, have a planned route to take, and before heading out, have a safety kit in the vehicle in the event of an emergency.”
 
Make sure you get a car winter tune-up now, prior to severe winter weather. Tune-ups should include:
  • Tire check - consider snow - or all-season tires if tread is worn
  • Battery test – you don’t want to be stranded in severe weather
  • Wiper blades check and replacement, if needed
  • Radiator, engine and all fluid levels check
  • Brake line and pad inspection
  • Headlight, brake light and turn signal inspections
 
Prepare a winter emergency kit for each vehicle and keep it in the trunk. Kits should include:
  • Two blankets or sleeping bags
  • Waterproof matches and candles
  • Extra clothing – especially boots, mittens and hats
  • Dry food rations, like raisins, nuts and candy
  • Flashlight with spare batteries
  • First-aid kit and a supply of necessary medications
  • Emergency flares
  • An extra gallon of window washer fluid in the trunk
  • An extra cell phone battery and vehicle charger – if a cell phone isn’t available, keep pocket change for pay phone use
  • A brightly colored cloth for use as a signal for assistance
  • A steel shovel and rope to use as a lifeline
  • A few large plastic garbage bags – which take little space, but could be used as insulation to block the wind if forced to leave a stranded vehicle

Some tips to keep in mind while traveling in winter:

  • Check weather reports prior to departing and allow extra travel time for weather and/or traffic
  • delays.
  • Know how your vehicle reacts on slick roads...front-wheel drive vehicles generally handle better than rear-wheel drive.
  • If the vehicle is equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), be sure to STOMP (firmly depress brake pedal), STAY (on the brakes – don’t pump brakes) and STEER (where you want the vehicle to go).
  • With ABS, it’s normal to hear noise and feel the brake pedal vibrate while applying continual pressure.
  • Clear all windows (inside and out), head-, tail-, brake- and backup lights and turn signals.
  • Allow ample stopping distance between you and the car ahead of your vehicle – stopping time and distance increase greatly on wet and slippery surfaces.
  • Stay alert for “black ice” and other slippery road surfaces on bridges.
  • If severe weather is possible, it’s best to stay off the roads. If you must leave, be sure to advise those at your destination of a departure time, anticipated arrival time, and the planned travel route. Also provide a cell phone number in case they need to contact you.
  • Lastly, ALWAYS buckle your seat belt.
 
The Importance of Seat Belt Use
Winter driving demands special care; safe driving is a year-round habit. You and everyone in your vehicle should be wearing seat belts for every ride. Children should be in age- and size-appropriate child seats. Never drive after drinking. Never drive when distracted by an electronic device or anything else. Those are the essentials for safe driving, whatever the weather. This year to date, Greene County has had a total of seven (7) fatal crashes. Of those who perished in these crashes, none were secured by the seat belt. “Wearing a safety belt is the easiest thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your friends. That is why the Ohio State Highway Patrol encourages all motorists to buckle up,” said Lt. Matt Schmenk
of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Xenia Post. He continued, “From 2015 – 2017 - 48 percent of the people killed on Ohio’s roadways were not wearing a safety belt.” It’s simple - safety belts save lives and reduce injury in crashes. Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time.
 
For more information about traveling safely during the winter months, please visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-safety. For more information on the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, call Jillian Drew at 937-374-5683 or email her at jdrew@gcph.info.
 
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