Driving in the winter is no joke, especially in the great state of Nebraska.  Even when it isn’t snowing, sleeting, producing icy rain, or just foggy and dreary; the sheer drop in temperatures in the winter is enough to cause serious safety concerns.  Even though this likely isn’t your first winter surviving these conditions, it is helpful to be reminded of tips and ways to stay safe on the road.

Darcie-DingmanIt would be nice to be able to call in every time we had a little bit of snow but that just isn’t realistic.  We have to get out there and brave the snow and ice in the winter months.  Darcie Dingman of Dingman’s Collision Center provides the following list of a few important things to check before you begin your winter driving:

Wiper blades – Are they working properly?  If you question this at all, consider whether your wipers will clear the dirty slush that continually flies onto your windshield without leaving a smeary mess.  If not, they need to be replaced.  Keep in mind that it is recommended to replace wiper blades annually.  Always having enough windshield wiper fluid is important; particularly one that is made to withstand freezing temperatures.

Battery – If your battery is more than three years old, it is a good idea to have a certified battery shop or mechanic shop test the battery.  You do not want to be stranded due to battery issues that could have been avoided.

Tires – Check your tire pressure and tread.  Your tire pressure may have dropped along with the temperatures.  For every ten degrees the temperature drops tires average a loss of one pound per square inch.  Monitor your tires frequently throughout the winter and make sure to maintain proper tire pressure.  Your tires should also have adequate tread on them and having them checked out by a professional is a good idea.  Another good option is investing in snow tires.  Always have a spare tire and jack with you as well.

Belts and Hoses – Check them out or have a professional check them to make sure there are no leaks or bulges and no fraying.  The cold weather will only exacerbate these issues making the hoses and belts more brittle.

Radiator – Make sure that your radiator is filled with the proper water/anti-freeze mixture that is recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.

Gas tank – Always keep a quarter to a half gallon of gas in the tank at all times to prevent moisture buildup in the tank.

Dingman adds, “Many vehicles have technology that is supposed to help with the slipping and sliding but it is no guarantee, in some cases it provides a false sense of security.  The important thing is to take things slow, watch for black ice and other areas that have historically been troublesome.  Be prepared and have a winter weather kit in your vehicle just in case.  Make an emergency kit.  Some items to include: blanket, boots and gloves, extra set of warm clothes, food and water, ice scraper, small shovel, flashlight, windshield washer fluid, flares, jumper cables, first aid kit and an abrasive material to help if you get stuck such as sand or kitty litter.  Take it slow and be prepared for road conditions to change rapidly.”

When driving in winter weather, as careful as you may be sometimes the best answer is simply not to drive when inclement weather creates conditions that make driving hazardous.  However, that is most often easier said than done as it is very difficult to stop or slow the pace of our lives and our schedule of daily activities just because Mother Nature is intent on being a jerk.  The more prepared you are, and the more you know, the better able you will be to keep you and your family safe when you must be out on the road in bad weather.