Short of parking your vehicles for months, there’s nothing you can do to avoid winter driving in Madison. But there are precautions you can take on Wisconsin’s snow- and ice-covered roads to help keep you away from auto body repair shops.
Rapidly changing road conditions can catch even experienced drivers by surprise. The best way to avoid unpleasant surprises is to leave the house prepared. Steps to keep you aware of what’s happening in the area include:
- Monitor weather reports – local radio and TV stations provide good updates and forecasts and with modern Internet connections you can get almost instant, real-time updates on what’s happening and what’s about to happen.
- Keep tabs on traffic – local sources and the State Department of Transportation provide road condition reports regularly. Here are two resources:
Basic driving tips from the early days of drivers’ education should be refreshed, including:
- In difficult driving conditions, always accelerate and decelerate slowly. Accelerating slowly is the best way to gain traction and avoiding skids.
- Slowing down takes longer on ice and snow. Brake sooner, evenly and gently (slowly) when approaching an intersection another vehicle or traffic signal.
- In general – slow down. On snow-covered roads, accelerating, stopping and turning takes longer so give yourself time.
TIP FROM A PRO — when the weather is really rough, road conditions are deteriorating and visibility is dwindling just stay home. If you don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you’re a veteran of many Madison winters, don’t temp fate.
Be Prepared for Winter Driving
In Wisconsin we know it’s coming sooner or later. Keeping your vehicle in top condition and taking a few precautions can keep you safe and out of an auto body repair shop. Before the first snow, check:
- Tire pressure and overall tire condition – good tires are critical to maintaining control in difficult situations.
- Windshield Wipers – now would be a good time to install new blades (there are some designed specifically for winter weather that resist ice and snow buildup).
TIP FROM A PRO — if your SUV or Crossover has a rear window wiper, don’t forget to check the blade on it, too. These are often neglected and provide a real advantage in bad weather when you have to monitor traffic.
- Top off fluids – especially your windshield wiper fluid. And make sure all the nozzles for window cleaning spray are clean and open – this should be a regular checkpoint during winter driving periods.
- Have battery and charging system checked – nothing is worse than coming out to find your battery just isn’t up to the challenges of cold temperatures. Check the system now so you won’t need emergency help later.
- Coolant – make sure your radiator coolant is ready for the cold.
- Routine service – it’s wise to have your car serviced (oil changed and all fluid levels checked, etc.) before the weather takes a turn for the worse.
TIP FROM A PRO — try to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times and top it off as often as you can. Even the best plans can be foiled by bad weather and unsafe roads so making sure you have fuel for emergencies is vital to safe winter travel.
Reduce Driving Risks—Reduce Auto Body Repairs
There’s nothing you can do about winter threats like black ice – or from other drivers who hit it. But there are steps to take every day to make your travels safer, including:
- Remove snow and ice everywhere – always take time to remove snow and ice from windows, mirrors and lights. Don’t neglect the roof, truck deck and hood – as you move snow and debris from these levels will blow onto your windows and reduce visibility. Visibility is the biggest tool in good winter driving.
- Give yourself room to maneuver – leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead, you never know what it might do and how you’ll be asked to react.
- Give yourself time to react – control you speed and your distance from others, understanding it will take longer to stop on slick roads and others cannot stop any better than you can.
- Plan ahead – winter driving conditions dictate that it will take longer to get where you’re going so plan accordingly – no matter where you’re headed, traffic and road conditions are likely to slow you down.
- Resist the urge – nothing is more frustrating than getting behind a slow moving line of cars or a local snowplow but resist the urge to pass. Not only does making sharp turns and rapid acceleration decrease your overall control on wet, slippery roads there’s a chance that plow will toss rocks or other debris onto your vehicle causing damage to surfaces, glass, lights or mirrors.
Expect the Unexpected
A simple trip to the mall can turn into a serious incident when there’s a storm sweeping the area. The sun may be out when you leave home in the morning but by evening a full-scale storm could sweep through the region. Take all the precautions you can to protect your vehicle from harm and practice all the basics of defensive driving. More importantly, protect yourself. Whenever you travel in winter make sure you have the following at hand:
- A fully-charged cell phone (and a car charger)
- Any medications you must take on a regular basis – just in case you’re stuck somewhere when you should be taking them
- Gloved and a hat
- Food – at least a few high-energy snacks
- Jumper cables
- A flashlight
- Emergency signaling device – flares, flashing light, reflector, etc.
Work With Auto Body Repair Professionals
When you need reliable auto body repairs, call Auto Color. Visit either of our two complete auto body shop locations in the Madison WI area – West on Parmenter Road in Middleton and East on Stoughton Road.
Call Auto Color Middleton at 608-831-9554 or Auto Color East Madison at 608-221-5041, or email us to enlist the efforts of skilled auto body repair technicians if winter driving gets the best of you in Madison.