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Arizona Winter Driving Safety Tips

Wintertime in Arizona can result in heavy snowfall in some areas and a lot of icy roadways in others. While a winter wonderland can be beautiful to look at, it can create frightening and dangerous drives. Drivers in Arizona need to prepare for all types of weather conditions, including ice, sleet, and snow. Learn how to take on winter weather without taking risks with these tips:

Take Care of Your Vehicle

Properly maintaining your vehicle is never as important as it is in wintertime. Salted streets, frigid temperatures, and heavy precipitation can put your vehicle under a lot of stress, causing it to breakdown at inopportune moments.

Avoid getting stuck on the roadside this winter by carefully maintaining your vehicle, checking:

  • Lights. In snowstorms, a vehicle’s lights can be the only things preventing dangerous collisions. Check your headlights, taillights, high beams, blinkers, and brake lights regularly. Your headlights should be bright enough to adequately light the roads during snowy conditions. With fewer hours of daylight, don’t underestimate the importance of working lights.
  • Antifreeze. Check your coolant levels before taking a long trip, inspecting for leaks and adding antifreeze to your radiator as needed. Antifreeze keeps your engine from freezing in cool Arizona temperatures. Mix coolant and water 50/50 to produce a lower engine freezing point than antifreeze alone.
  • Tires. Your tires are one of the most important aspects of your vehicle to focus on before winter hits. If you believe you’ll be driving in snow, invest in snow tires. Winter tires are more flexible at lower temperatures, helping to prevent dangerous sliding accidents on cold, wet, and icy pavement. Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Cold weather can make tire pressure drop.
  • Battery. A battery is less able to keep its charge in the cold. Before the winter chill sets in, test your battery’s voltage for good working condition. If it isn’t, consider replacing the battery. Otherwise you could wind up stranded in the cold in a car that won’t start.

Check all components of your vehicle before embarking on a long car trip, including the brakes, steering system, windshield wipers, and defrosters. Proper vehicle maintenance can give you peace of mind and prevent dangerous vehicle collisions or breakdowns.

Learn How to Drive in the Snow

Driving on snowy or icy roads requires special care. Accelerate and brake slower than you normally would, which prevents skids. Decelerate for stoplights and stop signs as soon as possible to give yourself plenty of time to slow down. Stopping, turning, and accelerating aren’t easy to do in a hurry on icy roads without losing control of the vehicle. Learn if you have anti-lock brakes and how to use them on ice effectively. If you have to tackle a hill, get a bit of inertia going on flat ground before attempting to crest the hill. Drive down hills as slowly as possible. Whenever possible, avoid driving in snow and ice altogether.

Create a Safety Kit

Keep a safety or emergency kit in your vehicle at all times. There’s nothing worse than a breakdown in the middle of a rural Arizona road, in the cold, with no emergency supplies. Keep your kit stocked with water, non-perishable snacks, flares, a flashlight, a pocketknife, and an insulated blanket. Always bring a cell phone or other form of communication with you on winter drives in case of emergencies. Consider signing up for AAA or another emergency roadside service for fast and easy solutions to major car problems.

Stay safe during an Arizona winter by learning how to be a prudent and knowledgeable driver. When in doubt, wait it out. Stay home until you feel it’s safe to drive.

Additional Tips for Driving in Winter Conditions

  • Winterize all vehicles. If you live in an area that experiences freezing temperatures or plan to drive through an area that does, consider the following:
    • Check tire pressure and battery charge before heading out on longer or rural trips.
    • Use winter-weather rated tires and snow chains, if necessary.
    • Keep a windshield scraper in the vehicle for ice and snow. In a pinch, a credit card or another firm piece of plastic will work.
    • Refill the gas tank when it hits around a half tank throughout the season.
    • Schedule driving times for daylight hours, and let someone know about your plans.
    • Check the road conditions before you head out.
  • Prepare an emergency plan. If you know what to do in the event of an emergency, you can help yourself and others. Always tell someone when you plan to leave and when you plan to arrive. Use these tips for extending your supplies, staying safe, and staying warm until help arrives:
    • Do not leave your vehicle to find help unless you can see a building or a person at a close distance.
    • Try to make your vehicle as conspicuous as possible. Hang a brightly colored piece of material from the antenna.
    • Do not constantly run your vehicle. Turn your vehicle on for 10 minutes every hour to keep the engine warm and avoid the threat of carbon monoxide. When you turn the vehicle on, remove debris from the tailpipe and keep a window cracked for ventilation.
    • Move around. Stretching and performing small exercises will keep your blood flowing and temporarily increase your body temperature.
  • Keep your phone charged. A cellphone gives you a lifeline when no one else is around. Invest in a vehicle charger for your phone. Keep your phone charged during the winter season. In the event of an emergency, “no service” areas may still allow you to reach 911. If you cannot place a call, try to text someone. Text messages may go through when calls do not. Keep your GPS settings turned on, and recharge the battery every time you crank up the car. Avoid playing on your phone and turn off features, such as running applications and Bluetooth connections, to save the battery.

During high-risk driving times, always expect the best but prepare for the worst. In the event of an emergency, knowing you’re prepared will help you remain calm and deal with the situation at hand.

To learn more, and for experienced counsel after any type of auto accident, call Cullan & Cullan at (602) 900-9483.


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