According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bad weather is the cause of approximately 819,000 motor vehicle accidents and an estimated 7,000 deaths every year. As a professional limousine driver, you are well aware of the driving challenges of being on the road during rough winter weather, the time of year when most accidents happen. The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2014 is predicting harsh winter conditions with below normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall across much of the country this season. So make sure you and your vehicle are prepared to best handle whatever comes your way. The problems of traveling in winter weather will only be compounded if you’re not ready to deal with the conditions and if your equipment fails to operate properly. NHTSA has posted a detailed, 5-page outline on what drivers need to do to be best prepared for heading out in the often unpredictable winter weather. The Checklist and Tips for Safe Winter Driving is posted online and can be downloaded in both English and Spanish versions. It covers suggestions to prepare and drive hybrid-electric vehicles as well as standard gasoline engines and the tips range from “Know Your Car” to “Learn What To Do In A Winter Emergency.” Some of the other topics include:
- Plan Your Travel and Route – Keeping yourself, your passengers and others safe by planning ahead.
- Stock Your Vehicle – What items to carry in your vehicle to handle common winter driving tasks, including supplies you might need in an emergency.
- Keeping Your Vehicle In Shape – Keeping your car serviced and performing a thorough pre-trip inspection. Make sure all fluids are full and functioning.
- Inspect Your Tires – No matter what the weather, inspect tires at least once a month and always before setting out on a long trip.
- Staying Vigilant While Driving – If conditions deteriorate while on the road, be prepared to wait until road and weather conditions improve.
- Driving In Winter Conditions – Words of caution about slick conditions, braking, skidding and keeping control of your vehicle.
- What To Do In An Emergency – Safety rules to follow if you are stopped or stalled during wintry weather.
Remember, one of the surest ways to avoid being involved in a winter weather accident is to increase the space and time that you have to maneuver your vehicle. Try to drive in the open, staying away from packs of vehicles to gain extra space. Slow Down and increase your following distance to a minimum of 8 seconds and, in more severe conditions, to at least 12 seconds. Nothing can restore control of your vehicle and your ability to deal with an adverse weather situation better than the simple act of slowing down.