Recently, Illinois and the Midwest endured some of the coldest days we’ve seen in a while. During the “Polar Vortex,” over 20 people lost their lives from either freezing to death or getting in a car accident.
When it comes to hazardous driving conditions in the winter, most drivers probably think about icy roads or snowstorms. However, these temperatures remind us how the cold itself can contribute to dozens of car crashes even if there is little snow or ice involved. It can create further chaos on the road by affecting a person’s concentration and driving habits. These dangerous temperatures cannot just be fought off by putting on an additional layer of clothing. To prevent the weather from negatively affecting your driving, you should begin putting the following habits into motion:
Park as close as you can to the entrance
While most health enthusiasts encourage you to park far away from the door to get more steps into your daily routine, that can be too risky during the colder winter days. During the Polar Vortex, being outside for mere minutes could give someone frostbite. Though the colder temperatures do prevent a lot of people from going to work, not all jobs have this luxury.
If you see predictions for freezing temperatures, plan to get to work earlier than usual so you can get a closer spot to the building’s entrance. If your workplace is large or connected to multiple buildings, you may want to consider entering in a different part that is closer to an entrance. The less time you spend outside in these freezing temperatures, the easier it will be to adjust to driving in it.
Keep the battery and tire pressure updated
Before and during the winter months, you need to make sure your car is in the best shape to handle the more extreme temperatures. Your psi drops for every 10-degree change, so all it takes is a few fluctuating nights to put your tires at risk. Check your owner’s manual to see what the ideal psi amount should be without forcing the maximum amount on your tires.
The car part drivers worry about the most is the battery, as freezing temperatures tend to be the most popular times when their vehicle’s battery doesn’t start up. If you have taken precautions and update your battery when it you should, there are still ways you can keep it running during colder weather. The Chicago Tribune recommends doing the following:
- Checking to make sure the cables aren’t loose and your battery isn’t corroding
- Turning off the electrical accessories before turning off the car
- Parking underneath a roof
- Covering the battery overnight
- Keeping a jumper cable on hand
While it is generally easier to turn the heat on as you are driving to make it easier on your battery, it may be better to wait idly for it to warm up before heading out so you aren’t constantly shivering on the road. Just make sure that you do not leave the vehicle by itself and it isn’t for too long. You don’t want to waste too much gas or have it stolen.
Get the right gear
As an Illinois resident, you should be well-aware on how to dress up during the colder days. However, you need to take into account how certain clothing can impede your driving abilities. For example, mittens are warmer than gloves, but they are not great for gripping the steering wheel or performing other functions. Heavy boots are great for traversing through snow, but can be difficult to move between the gas and brake pedals. If these options put your driving at risk, consider alternatives that can give you a similar level of comfort without making it difficult to drive. For example, instead of mittens, you could put hand warmers inside of gloves.
Freezing temperatures is just one of the many reasons why winter is one of the most dangerous seasons for driving. Many Illinois drivers will crash as a result of not adjusting to these seasonal hazards and put hundreds of others at risk. If you end up becoming one of those victims, consider seeking legal assistance to help you recover from the incident.