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10 Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Experts give their advice for preparing yourself and your car for winter's challenges.
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Schedule a Checkup for Your Car

You want to make sure your battery has enough juice. Weis says a full battery is required in cold weather. "Battery-related problems are what we see most frequently," says Jason Subocz, the service manager at Pro Lube Oil Change and Tune Up in Northampton, Mass. He recommends that you make sure your battery is fully charged. Also important, says Subocz, is to get your antifreeze checked.

Subocz also recommends that you make sure there is adequate tread on the tires, and check to see that the tires are properly inflated as well. You can have your car checked out at most auto stores and gas stations. You also want to make sure that your headlights and brakes are working properly, says Weis.

Avoid Distractions While Driving

Keep your eyes on the road. Accidents can result from driver distractibility. Studies have found that rubbernecking and cell phone use in cars can put you at greater risk for accidents. During winter months and severe weather, it's even more important that your attention be fully on the road.

Consider Your Age

Your age does matter when it comes to driving because driving-related injuries can spell more serious trouble for older adults. Brittle bones make injuries from accidents more risky for older adults, Weis says. "A younger person can walk away from a crash, but older adults may sustain more serious injuries, so it's important that they are prepared," she says. Both AAA and the American Geriatrics Society have more information about driving safety for older individuals on their web sites, including information that can help you assess whether you should still be driving.

Prepare a Winter Driving Kit for Your Car

Your car should be stocked with certain necessities in case of emergencies -- which may include running out of gas, getting into an accident, getting lost, or having your car break down. Weis says your kit should include blankets, water, a fully charged cell phone, a reflector, kitty litter or salt for ice, and some food.

Get Your Eyes Checked Annually

Annual eye exams are an important part of driving safety. "Fewer hours of daylight means more hours of difficult driving," Perry Binder, MD, an ophthalmologist from San Diego, tells WebMD.

Binder says there is also less contrast on gray days. He warns of the brightness and glare that can appear when driving in snow. "Snow and ice require slower time to react especially because of skidding," says Binder, who agrees with Weis that slowing down and increasing the distance between you and other vehicles is key.

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