It’s no secret that I have a love-hate relationship to winter. I LOVE the look of falling snow, how it covers the trees and makes everything sparkle.
I love watching my kids play in the snow, make snow angels, go sledding, and build a snowman. But I hate bundling up so much for the snow….and most of all I hate driving in it. This California girl will never get used to how much snow we get in Michigan! It’s insane! It’s beautiful, but I prefer my snow to be outside while I’m inside sipping my coffee with the fire roaring. Anyone else?
This year we are predicted to have a wetter-than-average winter, which means more snow and rain, especially for me living in West Michigan! And when I’m on the road, I typically have precious cargo with me. Keeping my kids safe is my number one priority.
I grew up in Southern California, so I had a little experience driving in rain, and a LOT of experience driving in traffic, but that was about it. I was not prepared for driving in snow and ice conditions when I moved to Michigan! Luckily, the first two winters I lived here were relatively mild. I didn’t have much trouble, and I guess I thought driving in the winter was not that big of a deal. Well, my third winter hit and it was terrible. I got stuck driving home from work for the first time in my life…and it was scary. My work had just closed due to weather and sent all of us home….and so did the rest of the city. It was so crowded and slow going. I remember being so scared! About 10 minutes in to my drive, I couldn’t make it up a hill and I panicked. A whole line of cars with cranky drivers was behind me, and I kept sliding around and had NO clue what to do so, I started to cry. And just then, a pack of teenagers (yes, teenagers!!!) who were walking home came out of nowhere and started pushing me up the hill. I still can’t believe it to this day. I had tears streaming down my face as they helped me inch up the hill. I wish I could hug them all! Eleven years later I still think about them when I’m driving in the winter. I hope they know how much they saved me in that moment!
So I thought I would share some tips I’ve learned along the way for driving safely in rain and snow this holiday season:
Do a systems check: Take your car in to be serviced (or do it yourself) BEFORE winter starts! Make sure your headlights and brake lights work, and check tires,
heater, defroster, brakes, windshield wipers and windshield washer fluid level.
Keep an eye on your tires: Typically when the weather suddenly dips down, your tires can lose air pressure….which makes driving with them potentially unsafe. As soon as you feel the temperature change, make sure to double check your tire pressure, and check it often during the winter months.
Use an alternate route: If something looks unsafe, don’t risk it. Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots. Doing so may stall your engine.
Take it easy and slow: Give yourself extra time to get where you are going. This one is SO hard as a busy mom! Every time I leave the house I have to bundle up three kids, their bags and snow gear, and snacks! So I already plan in extra time….it’s hard to add even more, but it’s necessary! If you need me, you’ll find me leaving an hour early for everything in the winter. When driving, increase following distance, travel at slower speeds and account for extra stopping time will help avoid collisions.
Limit Distractions: When driving, you have to give the road your undivided attention. Put your cell phone away and talk to your kids about the importance of behaving in the car while mommy drives.
Don’t panic: If your vehicle begins to slide or skid, DO NOT slam on the brakes. Take it from me! I learned my lesson the hard way. Tap your breaks gently. Look down the road in the direction you want to go and gently steer that way. Release the accelerator until traction returns. It’s so hard not to panic when you feel unsteady, but it’s SO important!
Have an emergency kit: You can see what I pack all year round in my car here. But for winter months, I add gloves, boots, blankets, flares, water, jumper cables, a flashlight
and something for traction. Did you know you that cat litter or sand can be used if you get stuck? I always carry cat litter in my car in the winter…it’s come in handy a few times. Just dump some in front of each of your tires to help re-gain traction when driving on ice. I also make sure we have lots of snacks and water, just in case we get stuck somewhere.
Keep your gas tank full: Jon tells me this EVERY WEEK during the winter. A full tank of gas makes your car a little heavier, and sometimes that weight is needed to keep you steady, especially if you have a 2-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive car. Also, if you were to get stranded somewhere and have to stay in your car until you are rescued, it’s important to have enough gas to keep your car and heat on!
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Allstate has more tips for driving safely all winter long and driving in inclement weather on their blog that were so helpful to me. They are a great reminder and refresher as we head in to winter driving season! Also, Allstate releases the America’s Best Drivers Report each year to draw attention to the critical community issue of safe driving. By celebrating the safest driving cities and lending a hand in bottom-ranked cities, they are helping Americans protect themselves before they get on the roads this holiday season.
Drivewise is optional. Subject to terms, conditions and availability. Smartphone required. Savings based on driving behavior and may vary by state. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. 2775 Sanders Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062. (C) 2018 Allstate Insurance Company.
This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.