Subzero temperatures, inches upon inches of snow, harrowing driving conditions – there’s no doubt about it, winter can be brutal in North Dakota. Although it sounds nice, staying put in our warm houses during those frigid four to five months really isn’t an option, so we bundle up, throw on our snow boots and head out to live our lives.
Make sure you’re safe the next time you hit the wintry roads by reviewing these car care tips and safe driving practices from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
Car Care Tips
- Have your exhaust, muffler, tailpipe, and belts and hoses inspected for cracks and visible defects.
- Check your tires to see if they have at least 1/8 inch of tread and to make sure they are properly inflated.
- Inspect wiper blades for wear and tear.
- Turn on the heater to ensure it’s in proper working order.
- Change the air filter, if dirty, for more effective fuel and engine performance.
- Change oil and check the level according to the manufacturer’s suggestions.
- Flush and replace antifreeze in the radiator.
- Replenish washer reservoir with the appropriate ratio of water to windshield antifreeze.
Safe Driving Practices
- Check road conditions before you travel. Call 511 or check the North Dakota Travel Information Map: https://travel.dot.nd.gov/
- Always carry a cell phone and let someone know when you depart, your route and expected travel time.
- Never leave without a full tank of fuel.
- Turn on your lights to increase visibility to other motorists and snowplow operators. Clear snow and ice from your entire vehicle, including your headlights, taillights and hazard lights.
- Do not use cruise control on wet or icy roadways.
- Get the feel of the roadway by testing your brakes while driving slowly and adjust your speed to how much traction you have. Double your distance for following other drivers.
- Snow fog from passing vehicles greatly reduces visibility. Look ahead for curves in the road, look behind for vehicles following and slow down.
- To stop on ice, you should pump the brakes when driving vehicles equipped with drum-type brakes on all four wheels. Vehicles equipped with disc brakes require a slow, intermittent braking action – fully on and then fully off – long enough to let the disc brakes release so that all wheels are rolling again. If you slam on your brakes, your wheels will lock and your tires will skid.
- Keep firm and continuous pressure on anti-lock brakes.
- If your vehicle becomes stuck in a snowstorm, stay with the vehicle. Most deaths occur when people leave their vehicles and get lost. Open your windows slightly and run the vehicle and heater for only short periods of time to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Winter Survival Kit Checklist
- Jumper cables
- Small shovel
- Sand or cat litter for traction
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Flares or reflective triangles, something red or orange and a whistle to signal help
- Cell phone
- First aid kit
- Coffee can furnace (the candle generates heat) – and matches to light the candle
- Carpet strips (for traction under drive wheels)
- Ice scraper and brush
- Newspapers (great insulation when placed between skin and clothing)
- Food and blanket
- Tire chains (for use on secondary roads only)