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Winter Driving Tips for Seniors

Updated 8/4/15 3:30pm | At Alert1 headquarters in Pennsylvania, we’ve seen our fair share of winter storms. Driving in the winter is a challenge for both you and your car, especially if you live in areas with snow and ice. The best way to avoid an accident in a winter storm is educating yourself on road safety. Brush up on your driving skills so you know what to do before you get into a slippery situation or have trouble on the road. Learn and acquaint yourself with Alert1’s safe driving habits for winter in the recommendations below. Here are our senior-friendly tips for dealing with snow and sleet-covered roads.

Make Sure Your Tires Are up to Snuff

Be sure you have the proper tires and snow chains if you need them. There’s also no shame in choosing to stay in during bad weather conditions. Non-essential trips can be postponed for another day. Arriving at your destination isn’t guaranteed when severe winter weather is at play. Consider the risks before you insert your key, turn on the ignition, and begin driving.

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Know When to Slow Down

Increase your distance when driving behind the car you are following and reduce your speed. Be patient and accept the fact you will need more time to arrive at your destination. Many serious incidents happen with just the slightest covering of snow on the road. Stopping your vehicle in the winter snow requires more distance because of reduced traction.

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Build a Preparedness Kit

Equip your car for the harsher conditions that winter brings. Have your car battery tested so you’re not stranded in the cold with a dead battery. Make sure your tires have enough air in them, with adequate tread. In case of emergency, store flashlights, extra batteries, first aid kit, warm clothes a blanket, and other essentials for seniors in the trunk.

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Test Those Brakes

Make sure your brakes are working properly and test-drive your car to see how long it takes for your vehicle to come to a complete stop when on an icy or watery road. Avoid abrupt braking, unnecessary lane changes and acceleration as you will lose tire traction. If your vehicle is equipped with four wheel drive, shift into that gear for wet or icy conditions.

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Time Your Trips for the Daytime

If possible, try to avoid driving at dusk or in the dark. Driving in bad weather conditions can be very fatiguing. In a heavy winter storm it’s especially important to stay put as your visibility will be impaired. If you’re already out on the road during a bad storm, pull over to the side of the road and wait for the weather to improve.  

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Practice Winter Driving Skills

If you’re nervous about driving during the winter, especially as an elder, it may be worthwhile for you to spend some time practicing. Go to an empty car lot and attempt to make your car skid on purpose. With the proper winter weather conditions, try slamming on the brakes. See how it feels to skid and turn until you regain control of the car. The more comfortable you are maintaining control of your car, the better winter driver you’ll be.

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Keep Your Car Engine Happy

You should buy a block heater for your engine if you regularly experience below freezing temperatures. A block heater is a small electric engine that plugs into a 120 volt AC outlet. For around $100, a block heater will guarantee that your car starts no matter how cold it is outside. Remember to disconnect the power cord before you scurry away on your jump-started journey into the snow!

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