It’s that time of year when many young people are getting their driver’s licenses and getting ready to hit the road. The weather is also starting to change, which means more hazardous driving conditions are right around the corner. The combination of inclement weather and lack of driving experience can greatly increase the possibility of having an accident. It is extremely important to make sure drivers and their cars are both in good shape to keep them safe this winter. Here is a list of items that are good for every driver to keep in mind, but for new drivers in particular.
Vehicle condition. This is hopefully something that was covered extensively in driver’s ed, but it really can’t be stressed enough. Your car needs to be in good condition in order to work properly and safely. Items such as batteries, brakes and tires should all be inspected and replaced if necessary before the extra demands of cold weather and slippery roads present themselves. A thorough inspection of all vehicle systems is also a good idea to make sure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises on the coldest days of the year.
Vehicle controls. Familiarize yourself with all of the various features and controls of your vehicle. Make sure you know how the heater and wiper controls work. Some modern cars have fairly complicated systems that can be confusing or distracting to use at first. If your car is all-wheel drive, it may have different driving modes that can be helpful in different driving situations. Anti-lock brakes, traction and stability controls are generally pretty seamless in their operation, but it might be helpful to test them out in an empty parking lot on the first snowy day. Pay attention to what it feels like when they engage so you aren’t surprised when it happens out on the road.
This leads to perhaps the most important component of driving safety: the driver. Your car will only do what it is told to do. Slippery road surfaces simply mean that the margin for error is reduced. If your car begins to slide, look where you want to go and turn in that direction. This does not come naturally for many people. The best way to learn is to practice. Find an empty parking lot or other area free of obstacles and see how your car responds to accelerating, braking, and steering. The more familiar you are with how your vehicle reacts, the better you will be at avoiding obstacles and will reduce the likelihood of having an accident.
When driving conditions worsen, reduce your speed and pay attention. It all comes down time, distance, and reaction time. The sooner you see or feel something wrong, the quicker you can take action. Distraction and complacency can eat up precious seconds that could mean the difference between a close call and a collision.
Clarity Automotive Group is your personal “Car Buying Advocate.” We assist our clients with navigating the complicated and often frustrating process of buying vehicles. We are based in Billings, Montana and also serve the surrounding areas of Bozeman, Miles City, Helena, Great Falls, and Lewistown, as well as Cody, Lovell, and Sheridan, Wyoming.