More tips on winter driving

If you ever drive through (or even near) the northern half of the northern hemisphere during the winter – above or near the 45th north parallel – you know that the weather can change rapidly and unexpectedly.

I drove through a snowstorm recently – a brief one, not a bad one.  But it was a reminder that I’d neglected some important things about winter driving.  I ran out of windshield washer fluid, and had to stop and stock up.

As the storm got a little heavier, I remembered that there was no  shovel in the car, and I always drive with a shovel in the wintertime.  Why?  Because if I get stuck or if someone else gets stuck, it comes in pretty handing for digging out of the snow.  I didn’t manage to bring along any snow-melt, either, or just plain old rock salt.  You never really know when snow might be unexpectedly heavy.

I did have a small first-aid kit in the car; I never travel without one, even in good weather.  And I did have some bottled water.  But I didn’t have any food or chocolate.

What kind of food, and why chocolate?  Well, I favor cheese, crackers, and processed meats like salami.  Buying the little sealed packages of  these in the grocery story is not a bad idea.  And the chocolate is there for energy; if you get stuck, chocolate might just come into its own as one of the major food   groups!

Needless to say (consider the source of this blog, after all) you should be sure you have the proper winter oil in your car, and that your local quick lube – say, Pit Stop U.S.A. – has checked out all your fluids and performed a good winterization service on your car.

But perhaps the major tip for safe winter driving is that you should always, always tell someone where you are going; what route you intend to take; and when you anticipate arriving at your destination.  You should do this even if your cell phone has GPS tracking on it, as mine does; it’s just a double safeguard.  In you’re driving in the great American West, just be sure that you stick to the main roads.  Some of those backwoods logging roads can be especially treacherous in the winter.

This weekend, many of us will be hitting the road again to celebrate the New Year.  Let’s start it off right!  Drive safely; drive sober; and have a happy and prosperous New Year!

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