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The Collegiate guide to winter driving

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By John Rothwell – Collegiate Staff

It’s that time of year when a certain four letter word starts showing up in Michiganders vocabulary. SNOW. Along with the snow comes daily commutes and travel that become just plain ugly.

Readjusting your driving skills and making sure your vehicle is prepared can help you reach your destination in a safe manner.

Driving too fast in winter conditions is the leading cause of traffic accidents. This means drivers should slow down and allow plenty of space between their car and vehicles in front.

Be cautious when stopping and turning on snow and ice covered roads. The handling of a vehicle considerably changes in these conditions.

Alongside the safe and careful driving, the Michigan State Police recommend vehicle preparation that includes:

  • Keep tires at the car manufacturer’s recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.
  • Make sure the windshield solvent reservoir is full and keep new wiper blades on front and rear wipers, if so equipped.
  • Wash your car for better visibility to other drivers, and remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and the license plate before driving.
  • Periodically check all lights and replace when necessary.
  • Prepare a winter driving survival kit with items such as an extra winter coat, pants, hat, boots and gloves; blanket; nonperishable food; flashlight with batteries; dry container of matches; jumper cables; tow strap; first aid kit; shovel; salt or kitty litter; road flares; and a spare tire and jack.
  • If you become stranded in a winter storm, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.
  • Keep vehicle fuel tank near full to prevent fuel line from freezing.

The MSP encourages travelers to visit the Winter Travel Advisory website at www.michigan.gov/roadconditions to check road conditions before traveling. The public can also receive road condition information by calling the MSP Travel Hotline at 1-800-381-8477