Winter Driving Tips for Colorado Drivers
No matter how much experience you have driving in Colorado in winter, it can be a challenge to get from Point A to Point B safely. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your vehicle and yourself safe during tough winter conditions in and around the Rockies, whether you’re a Colorado driving veteran or a newcomer to the state.
- Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter
You cannot get around Colorado safely this winter if your vehicle is not prepared for tricky driving conditions. Winterizing your vehicle is a must before the heavy snow falls, so schedule an appointment with a mechanic before fall ends. Get an engine tune-up, and have your mechanic check your battery and clean any corrosion or replace it if needed.
Make sure your headlights, tail lights, and turn signal lights work and that your light covers are clean. Also, top off your fluids and use all-season or winter oil. Clean your wiper blades or purchase winter blades. Finally, ensure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure and that you have the appropriate amount of tread; if your tires are bald, or if they are not made for winter, purchase snow tires.
- Avoid Distracted Driving
No matter the season, avoid distracted driving at all costs. You may think that you can send a text, talk on your phone, or drink coffee while driving, but it is not safe to distract yourself in any way because your brain is not as adept at multitasking as you think it is. When you try to focus on more than one task, you have a slower reaction time, which reduces your driving performance. In Colorado specifically, drugs such as marijuana are legal, but it is still not safe to get behind the wheel while using it, as it has a significant impact on your reaction time. Should you need to take any sort of medication that could affect your ability to stay focused on the road, have someone else drive or stay at home until it is safe for you to get behind the wheel.
When the roads are snowy and icy and when there is low visibility, distracted driving is a sure way to have an accident and put other drivers, bystanders, passengers, and yourself at risk. In fact, a recent AAA study shows that drivers may be distracted for as many as 27 seconds doing what they consider a harmless activity, such as changing your music, dialing your phone, or sending a test, even using hands-free technology or your vehicle’s infotainment system.
- Avoid Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving is just as dangerous as distracted driving. You can expect more drivers to hit the Colorado roads in winter to shop, ski, and vacation, and you need to avoid being an aggressive driver and stay alert for signs of aggressive driving in other drivers. Ease off the gas and give yourself more time to get to your destination, especially if the weather is bad or if there is heavy traffic.
Additional winter driver tips for Colorado drivers is to avoid avoid tailgating. Give yourself more space to maneuver and an extra cushion when the roads are slippery. You also should avoid frequently changing lanes or doing last-minute lane changes if you are new to Colorado; set your navigation system to include early alerts so you know when you need to change lanes or take an exit with plenty of time to spare. Remember to take deep breaths and stay alert while driving in the harsh winter conditions common in Colorado.
- Carry a Car Emergency Kit
Snow and ice storms mean that you could get stuck on a Colorado roadway for some time, and you need to be prepared for the worst. Keep your car emergency kit in your trunk or under your seats at all times.
Your emergency kit should include:
- Candles and lighters or matches
- Fire starters
- Brightly colored cloth
- Dried food and protein bars
- First aid kit
- Spare car fuses
- No-spill gas can
- Cat litter for walking on ice
- Flares or glow sticks
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Small tool kit with screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, tire pressure gauge, etc.
- Hand warmers
- Road maps
- Antifreeze and oil
- Multipurpose tool
- Handheld GPS unit
- Cell phone charger
- Emergency car battery charger
- Knife with durable blade
- Jumper cables appropriate for your vehicle
- Snow scraper and shovel
- Sleeping bags and blankets
- Spare clothes with boots, coats, snow pants, hats, wool socks, and gloves
- Tire chains
- Tow rope
- Metal cup
Following all the winter driving tips for Colorado drivers is not an easy task. Ensure your safety by preparing your vehicle for winter, avoiding distracted and aggressive driving, and carrying a car emergency kit.
Author, Mark Connor submitted this post as part of “Rino Say What?,” a community outreach program at Rino Supply Company. Mark created DriveSafely after his son, who has ADHD, started driving. He hopes the site will encourage all commuters employ these winter driving tips for Colorado drivers to make good decisions behind the wheel.
Image via Pixabay by EboWalker, Public Domain Images, FlenderFunways
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