Winter driving safety, image of snowy roadThe jingle of bells is around the corner…. the crackling of gift wrapping being torn is moments away and the excitement to go see the white snow of winter wonderland is only a turn key of your ignition. It’s time to consider your winter driving safety.

Are you ready to handle an emergency or breakdown? Chances are you’re not! Before you get excited, you need to get liberated and not persuaded by the holiday joy.

Learn to be prudent so you can make the right decision at the right time. According to Arizona department of transportation there were over 127,000 car crashes within the state of Arizona this year. That’s an average of 348 crashes per day and unfortunately, almost 30% of those crashes involve injuries.

Though Arizona does not see much of the winter storms unless your driving up to northern country, other cities you plan to visit may. Winter driving safety begins before you even leave your house. No matter how experienced of a driver you are, you are never prepared for the unexpected.

Start by being your own first line of defense and master the three P’s.

PREPARE for the trip—PROTECT yourself and PREVENT crashes on the road.

Plan your route

First, check weather and traffic reports to plan the safest way to go, giving yourself extra time as needed. Make sure to share your travel plans with friends or family

Stock up

Charge your cell phone and pack the charger. Assemble a cold-weather kit with blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothes and boots. Remember to have your usual Car Emergency Kit ready, too, along with a windshield brush and scraper, shovel and road salt. For electric cars, map out all the charging stations including express charge as regular charging stations as you may need more time than anticipated.

Get your vehicle ready

Fill up your gas tank, your windshield washer fluid and antifreeze (bringing extra). Check your tire pressure including your spare tire if you have one. Make sure you read the 4 digit code on the tire to make sure they are not more than 5 years old. Have your battery tested, if its 2 years of older, just replace it. Make sure to have your repair & tire receipts with you in case you need that information. Tell your repair shop your leaving town and do they have an emergency number to call them in case something happens to call for guidance. Ensure your windshield wipers and headlights work. If you have an electric or hybrid car, plug in your vehicle as often as possible when parked.

Slow down

What’s your hurry! Avoid sudden braking and don’t use cruise control. It takes longer to stop on snow and ice, so keep more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Give snow plows and salt trucks plenty of room to do their work.

Pay attention

Its easy to get distracted by having everyone in the vehicle sing Santa Got Run Over By a Reindeer. Use extra caution on bridges and exit ramps, which tend to freeze before other parts of the roadway. Take note of traffic signs that warn of areas likely to be slippery in wintry conditions. On long drives, take frequent breaks to help you stay alert.

Wait for help

If your car stalls or you’re in an accident, stay in your vehicle. To improve your visibility, keep an interior dome light on, and either place a reflector or attach a bright cloth to your antenna.

Practice locally

Before traveling on main roads and highways, sharpen your skills by driving in an empty parking lot with u-turns and fast and abrupt braking to understand how the vehicle will react in emergency situations.

Leverage technology

Go back to basics, remember that book in the glove box you never bothered to look at? Get in there and dust that owners manual off and get re-familiarized with your vehicles features that can help prevent accidents, such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, adaptive headlights and lane departure warning. Make sure you understand beforehand how they perform on slippery roads and be prepared for winter driving safety.