Typically, only the Northern half of the country has to worry about getting around in snowy and icy weather. However, this weekend, Winter Storm Helena has other ideas. Meteorologists are predicting the storm to bring freezing rain, sleet and heavy snow to the Southeast, including Tennessee, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Alabama and even Georgia. It can be stressful preparing yourself and your vehicle for this weather. Knowing this, here are 10 helpful tips for everyone looking to travel in these less-than-ideal conditions.
1. Stay home! – Simple enough. If you absolutely don’t have to travel, don’t risk it. Stay home and stay warm with a nice glass of hot chocolate and a good book.
We understand that’s not an option for everyone. So for those who must get where they’re going:
2. Know the Roads – Be aware of the road conditions on your route. Listen to radio and TV driving updates. Also, most states have a website that give real time updates on road conditions.
3. Prep the Car – Fill up the gas. Check your tire pressure and windshield wipers. Make sure the car is equipped with a collapsible shovel, jumper cables and an ice scraper. Pack a first aid kit and water.
4. Dress and Pack Warm – Keep a blanket and extra warm clothes in your car, including an extra pair of wool socks, just in case. And yes, we know your car has a heater, but always dress warm while driving, including wearing a base layer under your clothes.
5. Share Your Plans – Make sure to let someone know when you leave and when you expect to arrive. While you can never be 100% accurate, it’s best to let someone else know your plans in case you get stuck.
6. Cell Phone & Charger – In such a connected age, it’s hard to forget your cell phone, but it happens. Also, bring a charger that works in your car and keep your phone plugged in. We’d even recommend getting a portable phone charger as a Plan B in case your car breaks down, you won’t lose connectivity.
7. Eyes on the Road – Driving in icy or blustery conditions is difficult enough. Don’t make it worse thinking you need to check Facebook or Twitter while driving. This may seem like a no-brainer, but practicing common sense is always a good idea.
8. Slow and Steady – It wins the race. Find a speed that’s comfortable and safe for you and your vehicle. Even if you drive a larger SUV or pickup, don’t overdrive your conditions in hopes of arriving 30 minutes earlier. It’s just not worth it.
9. Don’t Cruise – Stay away from cruise control. Setting the cruise is great on road trips but you should avoid it in icy and slick conditions. Using it can cause your car to skid and spin the tires and greatly increase the chance of losing control of your vehicle.
10. Stay Back – One of the biggest causes of winter accidents is following too close. Remember, in the winter, it’s harder to stop as fast as you do in the summer. Give yourself plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you to avoid an unwanted accident.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re traveling this winter and it’ll make for a much less stressful trip.