Vehicle Safety Equipment Checklist & Safety Tips
FACT SHEET: Winter Driving
The leading cause of death during winter storms is transportation accidents. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are the keys to safe winter driving.
Have a mechanic check the following items on your car.
- Wipers and windshield washer fluid
- Ignition system
- Flashing hazard lights
- Exhaust system
- Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety)
- Install good winter tires.
- Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
- Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal.
- Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
Plan long trips carefully.
- Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person.
- If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation.
Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing.
Carry food and water.
Store a supply of high energy “munchies” and several bottles of water.
Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on winter driving.
Keep these items in your car:
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- Necessary medications
- Several blankets
- Sleeping bags
- Extra newspapers for insulation
- Plastic bags (for sanitation)
- Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap
- Rain gear and extra clothes
- Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels
- Small shovel
- Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
- Booster cables
- Set of tire chains or traction mats
- Cards, games, and puzzles
- Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
- Canned fruit and nuts
- Nonelectric can opener
- Bottled water
IF TRAPPED IN CAR DURING A BLIZZARD
Stay in the car.
Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow.
Display a trouble sign.
Hang a brightly colored cloth on the radio antenna and raise the hood.
Occasionally run engine to keep warm.
Turn on the car’s engine for about 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater when the car is running. Also, turn on the car’s dome light when the car is running.
Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation.
Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
Do minor exercises to keep up circulation.
Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. If more than one person is in the car, take turns sleeping.
For warmth, huddle together.
Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable car mats for added insulation.
Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Unaccustomed exercise such as shoveling snow or pushing a car can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.
“Wind chill” is a calculation of how cold it feels outside when the effects of temperature and wind speed are combined. A strong wind combined with a temperature of just below freezing can have the same effect as a still air temperature about 35 degrees colder.
Winter Storm Watches and Warnings.
A winter storm watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A winter storm warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way.
A blizzard warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.
Frostbite and Hypothermia
Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.
Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.
If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person’s trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood toward the heart and lead to heart failure.
Put person in dry clothing and wrap their entire body in a blanket.
Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine in it (like coffee or tea) or alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.
Don’t Be Blinded by Road Rage
Rage indeed. If you haven’t heard or seen anything about Road Rage in the last few months, you’ve probably been avoiding the media. There have been countless stories about this new and scary phenomenon. Road Rage is considered a type of aggressive driving. You have most likely encountered aggressive driving and / or Road Rage recently if you drive at all.
While drunk driving remains a critical problem, the facts about aggressive driving are surely as ominous. For instance, according to the NHTSA, 41,907 people died on the highways last year. Of those fatalities, the agency estimates that about two-thirds were caused at least in part by aggressive driving behavior.
Why has Road Rage surfaced on our roadways?
Why is this phenomenon occurring more than ever now, and why is it something that seemed almost nonexistent a few short years ago? Experts have several theories, and all are probably partially correct. One suggestion is sheer overcrowding. In the last decade the number of cars on the roads has increased by over 11% and the number of miles driven has increased by 35%, however, the number of new road miles has only increased by 1%. That means more cars in the same amount of space. And the problem is magnified in urban areas.
Also, people have less time, and more things to do. With busy working parents trying to fit extra chores and activities into the day, stress levels have never been higher. Stress creates anxiety, which leads to short tempers. These factors, when combined in certain situations, can spell Road Rage.
Are you immune to Road Rage?
You may think you are the last person who would drive aggressively, but you might be surprised. For instance, have you ever tailgated a slower driver, honked long and hard at another car, or sped up to keep another driver from passing? If you recognize yourself in any of these situations, watch out! Take the Road Rage Quiz to help you determine if you’re an aggressive driver.
Avoid the “rage” (yours and other drivers’)
Whether you are getting angry at other drivers, or another driver is visibly upset with you, there are things you can do to avoid any major confrontations. If you are susceptible to road rage, the key is to discharge your emotion in a healthy way. And if you are the target of another driver’s rage, do everything possible to get away from the other driver safely, including avoiding eye contact, and getting out of their way. By carefully following specific safety tips, you can help avoid Road Rage.
The big picture – What can be done?
Even though the problem of Road Rage may seem daunting, there are large-scale preventative measures currently underway to reduce the risk of aggressive driving and related fatalities. For instance, there is a major push to inform and educate the public about the problem, to improve enforcement techniques designed to punish and deter aggression, and to design safer roads.
Allstate, through its work as a member of the Coalition for Consumer Health and Safety, (CCHS) is helping to turn the tide on aggressive driving. According to CCHS, unsafe driving reflects not just the irresponsible behavior of a small minority of all drivers, but the slow erosion of safe, courteous driving standards among the majority of all drivers. A recent survey sponsored by the CCHS showed that most people consider courteous driving as safe driving. In addition, the survey results found ten discourteous driving practices to be unsafe. In response, CCHS recently introduced a “courteous driving campaign.” By disseminating information about the dangers of aggressive driving, and 10 tips on driving courteously, we hope to teach drivers about the value of driving carefully and courteously.