Freezing temperatures and a dusting of snow are two of three ingredients inherent to an early winter fender bender. The third, of course, is an inattentive driver who’s forgotten to alter key driving habits after the season’s first snowfall. At the crest of a hill the driver, realizing that traffic has come to an unexpected halt, presses a foot hard to the brake. The ABS whines as the wheels lock and the car, now headed downhill, slides head-on into traffic. It happens all too often this time of year, but with a little bit of preparation and routine maintenance it can be avoided. Pay close attention to these winter driving tips, they may just prevent that unexpected first-snowfall collision.
1. Always carry an emergency travel kit in your vehicle
Grainger Industrial Supply
3150 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Price: $43.20 100-piece emergency road kit
When the weather turns nasty and something unexpected happens on the road, the smart driver is prepared. Jumper cables, fix-a-flat, emergency flares, a spare tire, jack and a flashlight with extra batteries should all be part of your emergency road kit. At the Grainger Industrial Supply located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, there are several roadside kits that will have you covered when driving conditions are at their worst.
2. Pay special attention to your tires
Laurel Gardens Tire Service
163 6th Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15229
Regardless of the season, a car’s tires are the only part that connects it to the road. Keeping them properly inflated, balanced, aligned and running with good tread is absolutely necessary. The professionals at Laurel Gardens Tire Service are experts in keeping your car and its tires in peak running condition. It carries Goodyear, Cooper, Michelin, Bridgestone and Firestone tires as well as countless others. Stop in today before the weather turns bad, and make sure your car’s tires keep a firm grip on the road this holiday season and throughout the coming new year.
3. Clear away all snow and ice from your vehicle before traveling anywhere
Many of the aspects of good, safe driving involve common sense. One of the most logical ways to prevent a traffic accident this winter is by ensuring that your field of view is completely clear. Invest in a good ice scraper/snow brush and be sure to clean your car thoroughly — not just the windows — before climbing into the driver’s seat. Pennsylvania State law requires it. By leaving yourself enough time to attend to these issues, you’ll ensure a safe and pleasant commute.
4. Take a course in winter driving techniques
Pittsburgh International Race Complex
201 Penndale Road
Wampum, PA 16157
Whether you’re new to the area, a new driver or just looking to improve your skills behind the wheel, a course in winter driving techniques at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex may be just what you need. Learn how to properly handle front and rear slides, off-road recoveries and how to properly brake and steer on icy roads. The driving instructors at the Pittsburgh International Race Complex provide students with step-by-step instructions on every aspect of driving in inclement weather, all in a controlled setting and in your very own vehicle.
5. Utilize public transportation whenever possible
Port Authority of Allegheny County
534 Smithfield St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
When the thought of commuting another morning through a snowstorm becomes too much to take, hang up the keys and travel with the Port Authority. Whether by bus, trolley or incline, the Port Authority has your transportation needs well in hand this winter. It travels just about anywhere in the Great Pittsburgh area, and the price to travel is usually less than a gallon of gas. For additional information on Port Authority routes and schedules, click here.
Marcel Tourdot is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh. His work can be found at Examiner.com.