Char-Koosta News

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Winter driving is a different breed of cat

When driving in the winter remember proper planning can help prevent winter car mishaps. To begin with avoid unnecessary travel but if you must take extra precautions especially during storms.

Become familiar with the way the vehicle handles in winter weather. For instance front-wheel-drive cars operate differently on slick roads than rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Check weather and road condition reports. Donít start a vehicle in a closed garage because carbon monoxide fumes. Clear the snow and ice from the windshield, windows, lights and the top and hood of the car before you begin your trip. Keep vehicle windows clear while driving.

Drive slowly enough for conditions, but not so slowly to cause an accident. Accelerate slowly so your wheels wonít spin; avoid sudden starts, stops and turns.

Use headlights at all times. Use low-beam headlights for better road illumination in snow and fog. Donít follow other cars too closely - double or triple usual distances. Signal earlier than usual when making a turn. Donít use cruise control on slick roads.

Pump brakes gradually to slow down if the car starts to slide. If you have an anti-lock braking system, firmly press on your brakes.

If you have an accident or are stranded on the road during a winter storm utilize survival kit items as needed. Also turn on vehicle flashers and wait for help; remain aware of where you are unless shelter is nearby. Call for help or assistance and remember 911 call centers cannot trace a cell phone call to a specific location as they can with landline phones. So be cognizant of road names or highway numbers and the most recent cross street or mile marker.

If the wait is long, run the engine intermittently, about 10 minutes every hour. Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of ice and snow. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur with a blocked exhaust pipe. Exercise arms and legs to maintain blood circulation and have one person stay awake if two or more people are in the vehicle.

If it becomes necessary to leave the vehicle to seek help, exercise extreme caution because exposure to winter elements is most dangerous when navigating them on foot. Dressing properly including footwear is of the utmost importance.

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