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January 07, 2016

5 Tips for Safer Winter Driving for Older Adults

Winter weather brings its own set of concerns—the dangers of cold temperatures and ice and snow. Not only do you have to prepare your home for winter, you need to make sure you remain safe on the road, too.

Even the most seasoned drivers can find themselves white-knuckling the steering wheel when the roads are snow-covered or icy, which is why employing safe winter driving techniques is a must.

How can you remain safe when the roads are treacherous? Here are five tips for safer winter driving for older adults.

1. Winterize Your Vehicle

You take steps to get your home ready for winter, but you should also ensure your vehicle is ready for winter weather.

Be sure to:

  • Check tire pressure
  • Inspect all belts and hoses on your vehicle and make sure the battery is charged
  • Consider using a thinner-grade oil for your engine, which can provide better performance in colder weather
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and your wiper fluid is sufficient

2. Practice Safe Driving

It is always helpful to be up-to-date on safe winter driving techniques. So before you set out on your journey, keep the following in mind:

  • Drive slower than usual
  • If you’re turning a corner, brake before making the turn, not while turning
  • If you lose control of your vehicle, remember to turn your wheels into the direction your car is skidding. You might find it helpful to practice this maneuver in an empty parking lot

3. Have an Emergency Kit in Your Vehicle

Despite the safest of driving techniques, you may find yourself stuck during a winter weather event. Having an emergency kit in your vehicle can help maintain your safety until help arrives. Consider keeping the following in your kit:

  • Emergency flares
  • Extra oil
  • Extra antifreeze
  • Blankets
  • A shovel
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • A flashlight
  • Cat litter or other traction-creating solution
  • An extra cellphone

4. Notify Someone

If you’re heading out during winter weather, let a family member, friend or neighbor know where you’re going.

5. Be Patient

If there has been a storm, give yourself extra time before leaving to allow snowplows to clear the roads. Also, make sure your windshield, back window, mirrors, headlights and brakelights are free of snow and ice. If you venture out, don’t forget to take it slow and allow extra space between your vehicle and any vehicles in front of you.

Just because it is winter does not mean you have to remain indoors. By following these tips, having an emergency kit on hand and taking it slow, winter driving for older adults can be a safe experience.

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