Winter Road Trip? Tips On What To Take Along In Case Of Emergency

Karin Carr, Owner
Published on December 2, 2020

Unless you’re planning a winter road trip in order to avoid snow, you need to be prepared for the season’s adverse weather, preferably before you turn the key in the ignition. This includes dealing with snow, ice, sleet, and slush.

Extreme weather won’t always be present on winter road trips. As evidenced by the swiftly moving snowstorm near the capital at the beginning of the year, which left thousands of travelers stranded on a 40-mile stretch of road for more than 24 hours, you don’t need to be driving in Alaska to encounter snow-covered roads.

As the weather turns chilly, “many drivers don’t know what to do,” claims Volkswagen test and development driver Benjamin Leuchter. This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan winter driving excursions; in fact, we love going on ski vacations. According to Leuchter, it simply means that you should be prepared to drive in icy conditions to prevent getting stuck.

Follow these recommendations from Leuchter and other auto safety experts before setting out on your winter road trip to ensure your safety.

Bring necessary winter safety gear

According to Suzanne Johansson, a safety engineer at Chevrolet, “having some important things in your car before embarking on a journey is crucial to not only provide you with peace of mind but to ensure you’re prepared in case of bad weather.”

Johansson advises storing a snow shovel and abrasive materials like sand or cat litter in your car in addition to a snow brush and an ice scraper. Additionally, you should have jumper cables, a flashlight, and emergency flares in case you run into unforeseen difficulties.

Johansson advises keeping cold-weather clothing in your car, even though you might not want to wear your bulkiest coat, boots, and gloves when you get behind the wheel (it can be difficult to drive when you’re overly bundled). She also advises including a sleeping bag or blanket in your emergency winter car kit in case you find yourself in need of additional clothing to stay warm while stranded.

Create an emergency kit for your car

The experts at AAA strongly advise putting together a comprehensive emergency kit before driving anywhere in addition to winter-specific car accessories. To keep in your car, make a bag that contains a cellphone charger, a headlamp with backup batteries, a first-aid kit, water, and extra snacks and pet food.

Winter Road Trip? Tips On What To Take Along In Case Of Emergency

Get your car ready for the winter

You should allot a time before your trip to have your car inspected by a professional. Before you set out on a trip in icy conditions, have any scheduled maintenance on your car done by your dealer or a reliable mechanic, advises Johannson. Ensure your battery, tires, headlights, brake lights, wiper blades, and other essential components are checked out and prepared for winter during this service visit, she advises.

Ignore the cruise control

Leuchter advises against using cruise control systems, even though you might be tempted to do so given that driving in wintery conditions could result in more stops. Instead, manually adjust your car’s position to leave more room between it and the car in front of you—at least three car lengths. Leuchter advises against abrupt braking, aggressive steering, and quick acceleration.

Stay warm while waiting for the rescue

Clear the snow from your car’s base, especially around the exhaust pipe, if you are trapped in snow or ice and need to wait for assistance, advises Johansson. Afterward, start and stop the engine as needed to maintain a warm cabin. Remember to leave a window wide open to let in some fresh air.

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