As winter rolls in, it’s crucial to stay aware of how cold weather can impact driving for anyone, especially seniors. Cars and roads are generally better now than they were in the past, so seniors have a better opportunity to continue driving. Winter weather brings a new set of challenges for everyone, though, so it’s vital that you remain prepared and follow these tips for seniors courtesy of the Deupree House retirement community to stay safe while driving this winter.
A Senior’s Guide to Driving in the Winter
1. Prepare Your Car
Even if it’s running fine, it’s a good idea to give your car a once-over before you drive in the winter. Is your battery working well? Is your coolant filled and ready to go? What about your windshield wipers and front and rear defrost? Are your tires inflated properly?
Reviewing these things at the beginning of the winter can help prepare you for cold weather driving, but it’s also a good idea to check them throughout the season too. Most cars today have sensors that will tell you when your tire pressure is not optimal, so make sure you pay attention when you get those notifications.
2. Get Ready for Snow
Make sure you have everything you need in the car, ready in case of an emergency — or a snowstorm! Put a snow scraper in the backseat so you can adequately clear off your vehicle before you start driving. Leave an extra blanket or a coat in your car, too. Hopefully, it never happens, but if you have a breakdown or other problem, you want to stay warm in the cold weather. Remember to defrost your windshields before you start driving if it’s icy or snowy, too. It can be easy to forget that, but make sure you leave extra time to keep your line of sight clear.
3. Check the Weather Before You Leave
Get in the habit of checking the weather, either on TV or on the Internet, before you leave your home. If the weather looks bad, consider postponing your trip for a little while.
Again, technology is excellent now, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be surprised with a pop-up snowstorm in the middle of your drive. Once you check the weather, you’ll be more prepared for the conditions. Even if it looks clear outside, there might be ice you don’t know about. Always be careful when walking to and from your car, too.
4. Drive Carefully — Slow is Better
If it’s been snowing, this tip is even more critical. In bad weather, you don’t want to slam on your brakes or the accelerator. Look ahead and be prepared so you can slowly come to a stop or gradually speed up your car. This gives your tires the chance to grip the ground rather than spinning out if you accelerate too quickly. Also, avoid using cruise control. This makes sure that you’re always in control of your vehicle. As always, don’t forget to wear your seatbelt — it’s a simple step that is so important for safety.
5. Know What to Do if You Get Stuck
Hopefully, this never happens, but just in case you get stuck in the snow, stay inside your car. Not only will it help you stay warm, but it will also protect you from other vehicles driving past. Call your loved ones, AAA, or the police to help get your car unstuck. Use your blankets if needed, and make sure your exhaust pipe is clear. If ice or snow blocks the pipe, it could leak carbon monoxide into the car, and we don’t want that. Once you’ve cleared the exhaust pipe, get back in your car and stay warm until help arrives.
As with any situation, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These cold weather driving tips for seniors can also apply to anyone driving this winter. Most importantly, stay alert and know what’s going on around you. Pay attention to the weather and be prepared in the case of a problem. Stay safe and happy driving!
For more lifestyle and wellness tips for seniors, check out the Deupree House blog. You can also click here to learn more about our Cincinnati retirement community and independent living options.