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Driving in a Winter Wonderland

Michigan winters can be brutal. The cold winter months accompanied by wet snow can leave driving conditions less than ideal. It’s pretty…

Michigan winters can be brutal. The cold winter months accompanied by wet snow can leave driving conditions less than ideal. It’s pretty common to be driving down U.S. 127 and see a line of cars in the median, sometimes on top of one another. So, what do you do if this happens to you? First off, stay calm, and once you’ve accomplished that, consider following a few of these helpful tips.

Before it snows

Make sure your tires are snow ready. Make sure the tire pressure is at the correct PSI for the conditions. Snow tires are one of the best preventions to use; however, take into consideration that this is mid-Michigan, and we don’t quite get the amount of snow the rest of our state gets. It may also be helpful to compile a winter safety kit. According to the Farmers’ Almanac, this kit should include the following items:

  • Blankets, mittens, socks and hats
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Flashlight, plus extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Multi-tool
  • Road flares or reflective warning triangles
  • Windshield cleaner

When stuck

If you find yourself a bit stuck, try to improve your traction. Clear snow from around the tires and try putting kitty litter, salt, dirt, or anything that may help you gain some traction between the tire and the ground. According to the insurance company Nationwide, it can also be helpful to turn off traction control if you’re stuck. It can help keep control in the event you hit a patch of ice, however, being stuck in the snow if a different story.

Get help

Sometimes we all need a little assistance. Have some good Samaritans help push the vehicle or call a tow truck to help pull you out, or maybe one of them has some snow chains you can use to create some traction under the tires. When no other tricks are helping, it’s time to call the nearest roadside assistance or a towing company to help pull you out with a winch.

Again, remember to keep a clear and calm head. Once unstuck, check for snow-packed tires. This can be knocked off with an ice scraper or shovel. Remember to reengage the traction control, and it could be helpful to go straight to the service station for a tire check and to make sure no damage occurred. Getting stuck in the snow can be scary. But as with most things in life, being prepared is half the battle. Drive safe this winter!

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