Winter conjures up many different road-related adventures. From skiing trips up into the mountains and long hauls to sunnier, warmer destinations to road trips, especially with the holidays upon us, to spend time with family.
But road trips of any kind over Winter often create anxiety for drivers, particularly those not use to driving in extreme winter conditions. Fear of driving on winter roads is a very real phobia that many people struggle to overcome.
There are some simple ways to overcome this anxiety. We call it the three ‘P’s – Preparation, Planning and Priorities!
To properly prepare for a winter road trip the first thing you need to do is make sure you and your vehicle are set up for winter driving.
Questions you need to ask before taking a seat behind the wheel in Winter are:
· Can my vehicle stop effectively?
· Can my vehicle change lanes and corner effectively?
· Do I have the correct tires?
· How challenging is the weather I’ll be encountering?
· How complex is the traffic environment?
· Am I comfortable driving my vehicle?
· Have I driven on these roads before in these conditions?
· Will I be rested?
· Am I equipped for self rescue or overnight survival?
While it doesn’t address all the questions above, making sure you have the right tires for the road conditions, which in winter means properly rated winter tires, is a big first step to checking off your preparation checklist and reducing winter driving anxiety.
Be sure to check that your tires are inflated right and that the tread is still good.
If you’ve had your winter tires for previous winter seasons remember, winter tires are made from a softer compound which means they wear quicker. So, be sure you’ve had your tires checked by a professional before venturing out onto snowy, icy roads. Having properly rated tires that don’t have sufficient tread remaining won’t help you.
In addition to making sure that your vehicle is set up for the road, make sure you put together an emergency winter roadside package to take with you that includes essentials like a blanket, a bottle or two of water, first aid kit, etc. It’s also a good idea to have a snow shovel handy. Packing a full-size snow shovel may not be practical, in which case you may want to look into getting a small, fold-up snow shovel that can be packed easily away.
Finally, ensure you’re mentally and physically ready for the trip. This means making sure you’re rested, fed and hydrated. You don’t want to be tackling difficult driving conditions while sleep deprived. And if you wind up stuck somewhere for a period of time, having a full stomach and plenty of water in your system is always a good plan!
Speaking of planning, planning for your trip is the next step.
It’s likely there will be a variety of route options available to you. Because you may be familiar with driving one of those routes in particular doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best route to take for a winter drive.
Make sure you check current weather conditions for all routes available. It’s also useful to check for what resources are available along the way, ie. Gas stations, accommodations, etc.
Also, make sure you let someone know which route you’ll be taking and it’s a good idea to agree to check in with that person by a certain
time once you reach your destination.
Finally, when packing for your drive make sure you don’t overpack. You’ve probably seen vehicles barreling down the road over the holidays, crammed with passengers squeezed in-between all means of suitcases, coolers, gift packages and other items, intricately packed to use up every available inch of space.
In the event an accident occurs, all that stowage can shift around and become dangerous and even lethal.
So pack responsibly. If you have too much ‘stuff’ for your trip, re-evaluate what you’re taking and consider purging an unnecessary items.
This brings us to the final ‘P’; Prioritize.
Prioritizing begins with asking the question: Is this trip really necessary?
Keep in mind, staying off the road when conditions are treacherous not only protects you but protects other drivers as well. The less vehicles on the road when the weather gets rough, the easier it becomes for all drivers out there and for emergency vehicles to operate as well.
So stay safe this holiday season and make sure you’ve Prepared, Planned and Prioritized for any road trips you may be taking – The road trip Three ‘P’s!
Happy holidays from all of us at Big O Tires!