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Put together a stash of nonperishable snacks, like granola bars and bottled water, blankets, an ice scraper, a show shovel and road salt to keep in your vehicle in case you get stuck on the road in winter weather. (Credit: Kristen Prahl/Shutterstock.com) Put together a stash of nonperishable snacks, like granola bars and bottled water, blankets, an ice scraper, a snow shovel and road salt to keep in your vehicle in case you get stuck on the road in winter weather. (Credit: Kristen Prahl/Shutterstock.com)

When it comes to driving, winter presents a unique set of challenges. Frigid temperatures, ice and snow, as well as less sunlight to help navigate these hazards, mean drivers need to take extra precautions.

These tips, courtesy of Chris Hayes, assistant vice president and leader of transportation risk control for Travelers, will help you stay safe and warm if you encounter trouble on treacherous winter roads.

1. Know what’s coming

Stay informed about potentially hazardous weather by keeping up with your local meteorologist, regularly checking online forecasts or downloading a weather app to your phone.

2. Stock your car with essentials

Put together a stash of nonperishable snacks, like granola bars and bottled water, blankets, an ice scraper, a snow shovel and road salt to keep in your vehicle in case you get stuck on the road in winter weather.

3. Stay on top of car maintenance

Ensure your vehicle’s lights and windshield working are functioning properly, washer fluid reservoirs are full and you have enough antifreeze. You should also pay particular attention to your oil. Heavier oil can thicken in cold temperatures and make your car’s engine harder to start. Check the terminals of your battery to ensure they are free of corrosion, and regularly examine your tires to determine when it’s time to replace them.

4. Take precautions when running heat

According to Travelers’ tips, you can run your car’s heater for 10 minutes each hour while your car is idling. However, be sure to clear the exhaust pipe of snow and crack your windows a bit to prevent a dangerous build-up of carbon dioxide inside your car.

5. Keep your tank full

Keeping your gas tank full is always a good idea, but it’s especially important in the winter. Extended cold weather can lead to excess water vapor in your tank, which is susceptible to freezing. It’s also a good idea not to let your vehicle sit too long without running in the winter. Driving it, or running it in a well-ventilated area, a few times a week can prevent you from being surprised by a cold weather-inflicted dead battery the next time you need to run to the store.

6. Adjust your driving habits

While no one looks forward to standing out in the cold and scraping off your car before work in the morning, it’s imperative you take time to clear your windows, mirror, lights, reflectors, hood and trunk of snow and ice in order to improve your ability to see, and your visibility to other drivers, before you leave the driveway. Once your car is clear and you take to the slick, winter roads, reduce your normal driving speed and increase your following distance in order to account for lowered visibility and less traction on the road.

Related:

Brittney Meredith-Miller

Brittney Meredith-Miller is assistant editor of PropertyCasualty360.com. She can be reached at [email protected]

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