For many people, winter is full of family, friends and food. However, winter weather may make it more complicated to get out of the house, especially when you’re the one driving. Snow, ice, sleet and cold temperatures create new challenges for senior drivers. Seniors who rely on their own vehicle for transportation should be aware that driving in winter weather requires additional safety measures and extra care. Because driving abilities change with age, senior drivers should be prepared to take some extra precautions to help them to drive safely in harsh weather conditions.
1. Winterize your vehicle
Give your vehicle a little extra care during the winter months. Make sure that your brakes, headlights and windshield wipers are working properly. Also, check on the antifreeze levels, oil levels and tires. It is important, especially for seniors, that the heater and defroster are fully functioning as seniors are more susceptible to the frigid winter temperatures.
2. Always have a full tank of gas
There is nothing worse than running out of gas when it’s freezing and snowing outside. Keep your gas tank full during the winter months to avoid harmful condensation forming inside your gas tank and freezing in the fuel line. It may be pricey to keep your tank full, but it is less expensive than towing and repairs to frozen fuel lines.
3. Avoid rush hour and back roads
During heavy traffic periods, there are more people on the road and higher chances for traffic accidents. If you must go out during rush hour, be aware of black ice and traffic jams. If the roads are bad, avoid using back roads and shortcuts. Because there are fewer cars on the road, they are less likely to be plowed or salted and may be more dangerous than well-traveled roads.
4. Travel with a companion
Travel companions can be great during the winter months. Not only do they keep you awake and aware, but they can also help you to navigate the slippery roads and get through heavy traffic. If you don’t have someone to travel with in bad winter weather, make sure that someone knows where you’re going and that you have a cell phone with you in case of an emergency.
5. Prepare for an emergency
If you’re traveling during the winter months, especially for an extended period of time, it is helpful to be over-prepared. Put together an emergency kit to store in the trunk of your car, including (but not limited to):
- A blanket
- Food and water
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- A first-aid kit
- Jumper cables
- An ice scraper
- Sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter to provide extra tire traction
- Extra clothing, boots and gloves
This winter, take your time driving when the roads are snowy and slick. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in the winter weather don’t hesitate to ask for help. Winter weather can be challenging for senior drivers, but if you plan accordingly and are aware of the dangerous conditions, you can arrive safely at your destination.