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If you travel from a warmer climate to a colder area to visit relatives or enjoy a “White Christmas,” you’ll need to prepare yourself, your family, and your car for the drive.  Your vehicle is accustomed to living in a warm area and must be prepared for the challenges of sub-zero temperatures, ice, snow, slush, and salted roads.

Here are a few car safety and preparation tips from USA Today to help you enjoy your winter holiday road trip.

Father and his daughters are carrying a Christmas tree from the forest. Christmas tree and gifts on the roof of the car.
Father and his daughters are carrying a Christmas tree from the forest. Christmas tree and gifts on the roof of the car. | iStock Images/Myrna Auramchuk

Check your tire pressure frequently

Check the pressure and tread before heading out for your holiday excursion.  When you stop for gas in a colder area, check your tires again to ensure they’re still properly inflated.  You’ll need to do this again on the return when you stop in warmer areas.  Your tires could be the difference between a great road trip and one you’d rather forget.

When did you last change your wiper blades?

If you haven’t replaced your wiper blades for several months, now might be a good time to complete this task.  Fill your windshield washer reservoir with fluid made to withstand freezing temperatures to ensure it will continue to clear your windshield during your winter holiday road trip. 

Your battery and lights are extremely important

If your battery dies during your winter holiday road trip, you might be stranded somewhere.  While checking your battery, test your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, fog lights, and emergency flashers to ensure all lights workiwell. 

Pack for the winter weather

Pack the winter gear you need, but don’t wear most of it while driving.  Gloves, bulky coats, and boots can get in the way while driving, decreasing steering ability.  You should also pack a shovel and sand or kitty litter.  These items help when you’re stuck in the snow and need to create some grip to help you get your car moving again.

You’ll be glad to have an emergency kit and extra food

Pack an emergency kit ; it could save your life.  This kit should include:

  • A first-aid kit
  • Snacks
  • Blankets
  • An ice scraper
  • Basic tools
  • Warning flares
  • Drinking water

You could find yourself stranded on the side of the road in freezing temperatures; when that happens, this kit will come in handy.

Driving tips – Arrive alive

When driving during your winter holiday road trip, you must think about how to drive in the snow.  Here are some basic driving tips:

  • Drive slowly
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly
  • Increase your following distance
  • Keep your heel on the floor when braking to apply steady pressure
  • Avoid stopping while driving uphill, but don’t power up hills either
  • Keep all windows clear of snow to maximize visibility

These tips should help you get where you need to go safely and, hopefully, without incident.