Snowy roads in Houston, Texas, on a dark night

The Texan's Guide to Driving in Winter

With temperatures that rarely drop below freezing, it’s common to find a native Texan who doesn’t have much experience driving in inclement winter weather. Driving in slick conditions can be nerve-wracking, even for the skilled driver. But there’s no need to worry! We’ve compiled the best tips to help you drive with ease through any icy freeze.

Plan Ahead

If you’re anticipating freezing temperatures, take a few minutes to complete a few tasks that will help you save time in the long run. Take your car for an inspection and make sure it doesn’t have any outstanding recalls. The tires should have an adequate level of tread and the correct internal pressure. Lift your windshield wipers away from the glass so they won’t freeze to the surface and place a tarp across your windshield at night. Finally, pack an emergency kit for your car, containing a blanket, jumper cables, a flashlight, and flares or emergency markers.

Defrost Your Car Windows

Any amount of ice on your windshield can decrease your ability to see the road and those around you. But when you have somewhere you need to be, the last thing you want to do is wait for that ice to thaw naturally. Instead, spray on some windshield de-icer to not only melt the ice but also create a shield on your window to prevent more snow and ice from sticking. You’ll find these sprays in automobile supply shops and the automobile sections of most major retailers. Avoid pouring hot water on the ice, as it can cause the glass to break.

Breathe Easy  

Whether you’re heating up your car before you begin to drive or you’re waiting in your vehicle just trying to stay warm, be cautious about running it while parked. Before entering your car, always check if there are any obstructions, such as snow or ice, in the exhaust pipe. Also, you should avoid running your engine in an enclosed space, such as a garage, for extended periods. Carbon monoxide could build up inside the cabin of your car, creating a potentially deadly situation.  

Be Familiar With Emergency Maneuvers

When the roads ice over, your tires lose traction and can spin uncontrollably, putting you in danger. Being prepared will help you stay calm in the moment, so take these actions to heart.

  • Gently remove your foot from the accelerator or the brake. Applying either can prove to be useless or create an even more dangerous situation.
  • Look at where you want your car to go and steer in that direction.
  • ​As your vehicle begins to regain traction, consider whether you would benefit more from gently applying the brake or the gas and act in accordance. This should be enough to get you back onto the road and driving safely.

If you ever feel uncomfortable about venturing onto the wintery roads, it’s best to wait for better conditions. In the event of injury due to an accident, the experienced teams at our conveniently located CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency rooms know how to help when time is of the essence. You can request the ambulance take you to your preferred ER.

 

Sources:

AAA | Winter Driving Tips
WCPO Cincinnati | If you must drive on icy roads, know these tips
Driving Tests | 10 Excellent Tips to Navigate Winter Roads Like a Pro
NHTSA | When the chilly temperatures of winter set in, will your vehicle be ready for the cold?
WikiHow | How to De‐ice Your Windshield
NHTSA | Safety Issues & Recalls
Driver's Ed Guru | Skidding - Part 2