Press Release

Staying Safe Behind The Wheel In Winter: Offers Important Safety Advice For Snowy Driving

With the Chicago area poised to receive record snowfall this week, Senior Editor Joe Wiesenfelder offers motorists tips to help maximize safety while driving in potentially dangerous, wintery conditions.

"First and foremost, stay off the roads Tuesday and Wednesday if you can," says Wiesenfelder.  "Use public transportation, especially trains and subways, giving the city's snow plows time to do their jobs.  Snow plows can't plow when the streets are cluttered with cars."

If you must drive, says Wiesenfelder, it's important for you to calm down behind the wheel.  "Making gradual moves is more important than ever; rapid acceleration and sharp turns break traction on snow or ice.  Panic moves often create worse problems than whatever prompted them - swerving around a pothole might seem like a good idea until you find yourself in oncoming traffic."

"Today or Tuesday morning, pre-snow, is also a great time to make sure your car is ready," Wiesenfelder adds.  "I strongly recommend drivers do the following:"

  • Refill your gas tank today, in case you get stuck and need to run the engine for heat. Plus a full tank of gas adds additional weight to your car, which can provide better traction in a rear-wheel- or four-wheel-drive car.
  • Fill your windshield washer fluid today. Salt from the streets can coat your windshield and easily obscure your view. Don't add water to the windshield washer fluid in the winter time - it'll freeze and block the lines.
  • Pick up some sand or kitty litter (the non-clumping kind) to provide traction should you become stuck on snow or ice. Be sure to put the bags in your trunk as far forward as possible. Extra weight in the back of your trunk could promote fishtailing and skidding.
  • Check tire pressure. Tires lose 1 to 2 psi with each 10-degree drop in temperature. An underinflated tire can't withstand the shock of a pothole very well, and changing a tire during a blizzard is nobody's idea of fun.

"I would expect tow trucks to be flooded with emergency calls during the blizzard," says Wiesenfelder.  "If you're not in immediate danger it may be hours before they can get to you.  The key here is to prepare as best as possible."

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