1. Have a list. Santa isn’t the only one that needs a list this time of year, you should have a pre-travel checklist to ensure a safe drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a comprehensive list at on their website. Grab a copy and use it to prepare for long trips and seasonal car check ups.
  2. Know before you go! The weather in New England can change quickly, so it’s important that you keep an eye on the weather forecast when planning your adventures and make sure your car is properly equipped with emergency supplies.
  3. Find a LOCAL radio station. With so many drivers using satellite radio, it’s important to have a few LOCAL radio stations that will allow you to check on upcoming weather as you make your way on down the road.
  4. Turn off cruise control! On long, fair weather trips I LOVE cruise control, but it should never be used for rainy, snowy or icy conditions. Cruise control works by sending constant power to maintain a set speed. In situations where you may hydroplane or start to slip, the instinct to hit the brakes to disengage the cruise control may make the skid/slip worse. When you encounter slippery conditions the first rule is simply let off the gas…and that seemingly small amount of time it takes to turn off cruise control is often enough to make the issue worse.
  5. Keep your car’s lights on when driving in rainy/wintry conditions. While you may not need them to see, they provide visibility to other drivers. And it’s the law in most states.
  6. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. This may seem extreme if you are taking a long trip; but if you are traveling during winter it’s important to keep ample gas in case you end up stranded. Not only can having enough gas to turn on the vehicle in intervals to keep the occupants warm; the stops also allow you get out of the vehicle to stretch and refocus your mind, which helps fight road fatigue.
  7. Increase your following distance. The standard follow distance is recommended to be 3 to 4 seconds between your front bumper and the vehicle in front of you. You can establish this distance by choosing a landmark and time how long it takes you to get to it AFTER the vehicle in front of you passes it. But when road conditions are slippery or visibility is compromised you will want to increase that distance significantly, upwards of 8 seconds.
  8. Give those big rigs plenty of space. When you are passing an 18 wheeler, do not cut back in front of them after completing your pass. The time is take for them to stop or slow down is so much greater than a regular passenger vehicle. And in slippery conditions this could result in the tractor trailer “jack knifing” and cause serious issues for everyone on the road.
  9. Keep an eye on the temperature. The dreaded black ice will form on damp/wet roads when the temperature reaches 32F and happens quickly, so you may be unpleasantly surprised. If you car does not have an outside temperature gauge, you can purchase one for about $10 at an auto store or truck stop!
  10. Take your time. Plan your trip to allow for plenty of travel time to your destination and back home.

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