Fall and winter offer a stark beauty that languorous summer days don’t offer. However, there is a cost to traveling during these seasons. The roads are not always in the best conditions. Low temperatures and chilly precipitation deem that you prepare your car for road safety.
Then while the balmy days of summer and spring offer bright blue skies, sometimes the rainy deluges hit from abrupt thunderstorms that provide flooded roadways.
I do make regular visits to my mechanic at the Pit Stop in Pawnee, Illinois for a tune-up and other routine maintenance. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration advises having, ” your vehicle checked thoroughly for leaks, badly worn hoses, or other needed parts, repairs, and replacements.”
As farmer,s my husband Keith and I find we have mainly two travel seasons, summer and winter. Country Financial offers some tips that sound like a good idea before hitting the road.
The Country Financial Basic Kit
- First Aid Kit
- Cell phone and car charger
- Flashlight with new batteries
- Candle with matches or lighter
- Ice scraper and snow brush
- Hazard sign or brightly colored flag
- Cat litter or sand
- Bottled water and non-perishable food items
- Warm clothing, winter boots, gloves
- Battery jump pack or jumper cables
My friend Sara Broers co-founder of the Midwest Travel Network is currently on a road trip with blogger Melody Pittman of Wherever I May Roam. Driving through Arizona in an RV into the mountains, Sara jumped on the ice scraper portion of the kit. She advised, “Be prepared for rapidly changing temperatures. Rain can turn to ice in a matter of minutes. An ice scraper is a must.”
After reading the Country Financial list, I need to add a few items to my car to be ready for road safety. I have the first aid kit, the cell phone charger, but I need to add in the flash light and candles. I used to have them, but over time they have disappeared.
That is the thing, you start out with all the things you need, then if they are not replaced, when you need them, they are nowhere to be found. Then you are out of luck. This handy reminder will get me moving!
I am updating this in the first of December and we have already had a couple of snows. Duluth, Minnesota and Iowa has been plagued by huge snowfall so be ready!
A shovel, blanket and cat litter also need to be added to my car, the list is growing!
Another update to this list! When I was a young girl coming back from college with a boyfriend, we hydroplaned, and our car spun around in front of a semi. So, when Bankrate reached out to me about including information about this aspect of driving safety I decided it needed to be included. They share,
“Hydroplaning is when your tires cannot maintain traction due to the volume of water on the road, your tires can lose traction with the pavement, effectively eliminating your ability to steer or sometimes brake. When hydroplaning takes over, you can feel temporarily helpless. While in hydroplane, the following effects are common:
- Loss of steering
- Loss of brakes
- Loss of power control.
What do you do when you hydroplane?
Bankrate advice, if your car is hydroplaning, try to stay calm and follow these tips.
- Turn the wheel.
When you feel the car begin to slide, turn the steering wheel in the direction that your car is hydroplaning to counteract the loss of control. This improves the wheel’s ability to regain traction.
- Stop speeding.
Gently lift your foot off the accelerator to gradually reduce your speed. Remember that speed increases the volume of water your tires have to displace, so letting your car naturally decelerate can gradually help the tires regain an advantage.
- Pump the breaks.
Resist the urge to slam on the breaks, which can exacerbate hydroplaning, and instead, lightly pump the brakes to slow the vehicle without adding to the skid.
- Drive in a lower gear.
Switching to a lower gear can help your car remain at a lower and more stable rate of acceleration, thereby reducing your chances of an accident. While it might be too much of a distraction to try and down-shift mid-hydroplane, driving in a lower gear at the outset of rain may help prevent hydroplaning from occurring at all.
- Take time to breathe.
Hydroplaning is intimidating for most drivers, no matter how long you’ve been on the road. If you experience hydroplaning, pull over when it’s safe to do so and take a moment to collect yourself and steady your nerves. Driving calmly improves your ability to take extra time and slow down or avoid pooling water.
On the Country Financial list, they warn, “If you live in a rural area or are taking a longer trip, your needs may be different so consider adding a few extra items to your kit.”
Well, I do live in a rural area so…. here are those extra items!
- Flares and emergency
- Light sticks
- Disposable hand warmers
- Toilet paper
- Basic tool kit
- Tire Chains/Tow Rope
I don’t see me using all of these items in all honesty. However, the flares and having a basic tool kit will probably find their way into my car.
If the weather is bad enough that I need to be towed my plan is to be home sweet home. Sometimes though there is no other choice than to get out. If you have to go when roads are bad, one important road safety tip I saw, is to notify others of where you are going. Let them know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
Living in the country, we rely on a four-wheel drive. Sometimes that is the only way we travel in the dead of winter. It can be the only way in and the only way out! For my own sense of security when traveling I keep my OnStar service up to date.
Some Triple AAA advice.
AAA had a few tips that I didn’t see in the Country Financial tips. While these are pretty common sense, I think they should be reiterated.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
- Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.
Good advice, the more you know the better when you go! Just in case something goes wrong and you end up in a ditch, Firefighter and emergency response professional Paul Steinweg said, “Make sure the spare tire is aired up.”
How right he is.
A bit after I published this post, Lauren Thomas of Reviews.com reached out to me to let me know that there are many more benefits to being a AAA member besides just getting your tire fixes. She mentioned DMV services , Identity Theft and much more. Check out their article of 9 Things You Didn’t Realize About a AAA Membership to see how much more is available if you are a member!
Too much to see.
Most of the time though a dusting of snow, or cold temperatures will not keep me from exploring. Winter offers a chalkboard kind of beauty that can’t be seen other times of the year. There are eagles to see, hot chocolate to sample, toys shows to attend, winter festivals to visit and the bluest skies of the year! However, it is a much nicer feeling knowing that the car is outfitted with the tools I need to ensure safe travel for the “just in case” moments.
My mother though would add one comment, “Don’t leave home without a travel prayer”. There you have it.
Read about keeping your home safe while traveling during winter as well!