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Winter weather driving tips

From 1981-2010, the city of Madison has averaged 50.9” of snow each year. The majority of which occurs in the months of December, January and February. Other parts of the state typically experience an average annual snowfall that ranges from 32”-60.” For those who drive or utilize public transportation to travel to and from work, this can negatively affect the daily commute. Even without snow, the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Safety+Health Magazine indicated in a 2018 article that, “driving to and from work may be one of the most dangerous things you do every day.” To help avoid winter weather related vehicle crashes, try accelerating and decelerating slowly and increase your following distance to 8 to 10 seconds.

The NSC also recommends you do the following to prepare your vehicle for winter weather driving:

  • Test your battery; battery power drops as the temperature drops
  • Make sure the cooling system is in good working order
  • Have winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread put on your car
  • If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch
  • Check the tire pressure; tire pressure drops as the temperature drops
  • Check your wiper blades and replace if needed
  • Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze

In addition to the above preparation tips, it’s also a good idea to stock your vehicle with an emergency kit that includes items that can assist you if your vehicle becomes stuck in snow or ice. It is recommended that an emergency kit is stocked with the following items:

  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Tow chain
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Road maps
  • Blankets, change of clothes

Article Sources:

https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/hazards_precautions.html

https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/winter/driving

https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/17052-national-safety-month-week-4-understand-new-driving-technologies

https://mrcc.illinois.edu/mw_climate/climateSummaries/climSummOut_snow.jsp?stnId=USW00014837

https://www.weather.gov/grb/avgsnow