Long Distance Winter Road Trip Safety Guide
Many of us will have an upcoming road trip that covers many hundreds of kilometers to see relatives or old friends this winter. Unless the you can easily move the trip dates around to fit the weather there will be a battle against the weather. Before and while you hit the road there are some simple steps to follow in order to keep you and your vehicle safe.
Before You Leave
You need to do three things prior to leaving on a long winter road trip. The first step is going to be a couple weeks before, which is going to a mechanic. We recommend you get the vehicle “safetied” which should run from $80-$200 and they will check every aspect of your vehicle for flaws and they will give a report for what would be needed in order to pass a safety. We recommend you ask them to give you a report on safety concerns instead of having a real safety check, because failing a real safety check could result in you needing to pay for these repairs that may not be needed such as a power window issue or cracked mirror.
Once you have the vehicle’s safety squared away you can start letting some of your family and friends know what day and time you plan on traveling. You should also include the route you plan on taking. This will allow people to know your whereabouts without having to disturb you when driving.
We recommend you stay up to date with the weather the week leading up to the trip. This way if possible you could leave a day early or late depending on if there will be good weather on one of the surrounding days. Another thing to think about is if there will be snow falling on your trip you should top up your windshield washing fluid. This will come in handy since you can easily go through a full bottle in bad weather.
Lastly, check some of our seasonal tips on some items for your vehicle during the winter, which includes some warm gear and jumper cables for example.
If You Get Stuck
It can happen when you do spin off the road and can no longer simply drive back onto the road. This is a dangerous spot to be in for a number of reasons, we recommend five steps in order to keep you as safe as possible while help is on the way.
Firstly, keep warm while trying to conserve fuel. It will be tempting to turn the car on to keep warm, but we recommend using those packed blankets instead.
When you do eventually turn the vehicle on again you need to check the exhaust pipe in order to make sure it is not clogged with dirt, snow or ice. A clogged tailpipe while running can allow carbon monoxide to leak into the passenger area of the vehicle.
Staying with your vehicle is important as some emergency help could see an empty can and assume the people had left and that will mean that there is less of an emergency than that of a car full of people who are cold and need help. We also recommend this so that you can help the tow truck or CAA with the vehicle if needed when they arrive.
You should try to dig yourself out at first if possible, but doing this can actually create great risk. When you work yourself hard in a winter jacket you can still sweat a lot and that can be dangerous as it will make you even colder when you eventually stop working. We recommend you work slowly and try to avoid working up a sweat.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, you need to be visible to the road and surrounding areas. This is so that other motorists see you and so that you responders can see you. If you don’t have the equipment for this, we recommend tying a bright shirt to the top of your radio antenna and putting another bright shirt somewhere opposite to the antenna on the top of the vehicle.