Most Marylanders didn’t see much snow last winter, but so far, 2021 has more than made up for that. The Farmer’s Almanac’s prediction of a wet, snowy winter for the mid-Atlantic region has been turned into a reality, especially in Frederick and western Maryland– bringing with it more challenges for drivers on the roads.
Driving safety experts say that drivers should prepare for snow and ice on the roads early so that a sudden winter storm isn’t a dangerous surprise. Let’s talk about a few things you can do to be ready to drive safely this winter:
Put snow tires on your car.
Experts recommend you get four snow tires put on your care to give you better traction and maximize your steering/braking ability in the snow, ice, and slush – thus reducing your chances of a car accident.
Check your engine.
Cold weather is hard on your car engine, so pay a bit of extra attention to it to keep it running smoothly this winter. Keep the coolant, oil, and other fluids at recommended levels, either by checking them yourself or bringing your car in for regular maintenance.
Top up windshield wiper fluid.
Visibility in bad weather is critically important, so do your part by replenishing your windshield wiper fluid regularly. Most windshield wiper fluids contain a de-icer as well, which is handy in a sudden ice storm or snow shower until you have time to physically clean your windshield. Road salt, along with additional dirt, slush and grime from wintery roads, can make it especially difficult to see – so keep a spare bottle of windshield wiper fluid on hand in case you run out.
Check regularly for any headlights, signal lights or taillights that have burned out. Strong light signals go a long way to alerting other cars of your intentions on the road, especially in poor visibility.
Have a winter storm survival kit.
You don’t have to live on Mount Washington to run the risk of getting stuck in bad weather or having to sit out a rough spot on the side of the road. Packing the basics like a shovel, a flashlight, batteries, blankets, water, and snacks is a good idea. Add a cell phone charger, jumper cable, flares– even a bit of sand or cat litter to give tires better traction if needed– round out a well-supplied emergency kit.
Falling snow is beautiful, especially if you’re safe at home with nowhere to go. But if you must brave the roads, or if a fast moving storm comes on by surprise – having your car equipped properly in advance will help keep you, your vehicles, and those you are sharing the road with safe and sound.