- Make sure your car is winter ready– Before the biggest winter storms hit, make sure that your tires have plenty of tread, your windshield washer fluid is of a no-freeze variety, your wipers work properly, your oil is changed, and your coolant is topped off and ready for Elmira weather.
- Keep a well-charged cell phone with you when you travel– It is always a good idea to take this precaution. While we know it is dangerous to text and drive, in the event of an accident, a cell phone could just be the thing that saves your life.
- Leave early and give yourself room on the road– While this may seem like common sense, I know how tempting it can be when you are running late and want to speed to go to your destination faster. It never hurts to leave extra room between you and the cars around you and to drive slowly- even if it means you get to your destination a few minutes later.
- Don’t drive distracted– While this is definitely an important driving point all year round, it never hurts to be reminded to always keep both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel. Driving with your headlights on and your mind focused on the present are especially important in winter driving.
- Have an emergency kit in your car– There is an old saying that says, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” This holds true when traveling in inclement weather. Having supplies such as jumper cables, an ice scraper, a flashlight with extra batteries, a blanket, extra warm clothing, water, matches or a lighter, a first aid kit, basic tools, and flares are a great idea. In fact, many local stores sell kits or winter-ready variations of these supplies, such as mini flashlights or travel radios. You can also put non-perishable food in your kit, such as energy bars, candy bars, hard candies, dried fruit, jerky, and granola bars, but you may have to resist temptation of qualifying that hunger on the way home from work as a call for the emergency food kit!
Dealing with so many accident cases and reading tragic recent headlines about such people as 10-year-old Taylor Estrella of Maine, NY, who passed away when her grandmother’s car hit a recycling truck and David Wilkins, an Elmira man who died in a crash on Route 13, are reminders of the dangers that we all face when we pick up the keys and get into our cars in the winter. No matter what your top driving precautions are this winter, I hope these friendly tips can help to keep you and your loved ones safe this season.