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For All Car Owners: Winter Tips To Remember

If you have recently purchased a car with an auto loan, congratulations. Now that you have the vehicle in your possession, you should take care of it and make sure you are safe when you are driving. Being safe on the road is always important, but it is most crucial these days, especially considering the kind of weather Indianapolis has.

The mayor of Indianapolis recently raised the city’s travel emergency level to red, making driving illegal except for emergency purposes and for the purpose of seeking shelter. Mayor Greg Ballard issued the warning after heavy snow and dropping temperatures rendered driving unsafe. If you really must drive in such weather, take safety precautions. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

Before Driving:

  • Allow extra time for travel. Plan ahead—find out directions beforehand as well as possible alternate routes should you encounter unsafe conditions on the road.
  • Tell someone where you are going, what route you are taking, and when you are expected to arrive.
  • Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir. Use only high-quality winter fluid, particularly one with deicer. Make sure to bring extra to keep in the vehicle.
  • Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle. Make sure you have the following: portable radio, flashlight, blankets, rope, ice scraper, booster cables, flares, sand, shovel. Always bring extra warm clothes and water.
  • Never forget to bring a cellphone, but do not use it while driving. Texting while driving is dangerous, even more so in severe weather conditions.
  • Install winter tires. These are very important, as these improve traction. Unlike all-season tires, winter tires remain pliant in low temperatures. They also stay better on the road in snowy conditions. Ensure that tires are inflated to the auto maker’s recommended inflation rate for optimum performance and safety. You can find this rate inside the vehicle’s door.
  • Remove snow and ice at the windows, windshield and top of the vehicle prior to driving off.

When Driving:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Utilize traction well. You will have less grip if you accelerate, break or steer at the same time.
  • When you need to accelerate or brake, do it slowly.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, brake with firm and steady pressure. If you don’t, gently pump the pedal. Refrain from slamming on the brakes.
  • When the vehicle is sliding, slowly remove your foot from the gas pedal. Gently steer the vehicle where you want it to go. Only step on the gas and brakes when you are back in control.
  • Drive carefully when crossing bridges. Bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze faster than road surfaces.
  • Put more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Double the distance you usually put between you and the vehicle you are following.
  • Keep out of the ‘No Zone,’ or the area around buses and large trucks. This area is where crashes usually occur.
  • Don’t pass a snowplow. If you do, you will be driving on snow-covered road. Don’t follow it too closely, either. Keep a distance of 50 or 100 feet between you and the snowplow.

If You Are Stuck:

  • Keep calm. Immediately call emergency services if cellphone service is available.
  • Stay inside the vehicle and keep your seat belt on. It is possible that other drivers may hit your vehicle while it is stuck.
  • Keep yourself warm. Turn on the car for 10 minutes every hour.
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