SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Safe Driving
The leaves have fallen and old man winter is ready
to pay us a visit. Many who live in the colder parts
of the United States are getting our homes ready -
checking the furnace, sealing windows from drafts, but
have you thought about the car or delivery vehicle that
Every time that you step into a vehicle, you face a potential
driving hazard. Have you ever thought of your vehicle
as a tool? All workers use tools, from office equipment to
industrial machinery. Your vehicle is also a tool. Whether
or not you use a vehicle as part of your work, it, like your
other tools must maintained and used safely. Here are a
few simple safety checks that should be made before the
cold and wet weather sets in:
Winter Tire Maintenance
Rain, snow and ice make streets slippery in the winter
and compromise your ability to control your car. Tires
make contact with those slippery roads, therefore, make
sure they provide you with the control you need.
The first step in winter tire maintenance is to put winter
tires on your car. Winter tires help keep control of your car
with large directional treads that resist hydroplaning by
allowing more water into the tread channel. They also
help tires work through slush.
Check the treads and sidewalls on your tires to
make sure there is no thin or uneven tread wear and
no cuts or damage to the sidewalls. To check for tread
wear, you can use a Lincoln penny. Place the penny
into your tread at the thinnest point of wear. If you
can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you may need to
get new tires.
Finally, check your tire pressure to make sure your tires
are properly inflated. Check your owner’s manual to find
the correct tire pressure for your vehicle. Changes in temperature
will cause the pressure in your tires to change.
As it gets colder, your tire pressure will go down. Also,
don’t forget to check your spare tire.
Inspect Your Vehicle
Changes in temperature can cause problems in a vehicle
that has not been properly maintained.
- Make sure there is enough power in your battery to
start your vehicle on those cold mornings.
- Make sure the battery cables are properly tightened
and fluid levels are correct.
Clean any corrosion off of the battery terminals.
- The fluid in your cooling system keeps your engine from
- Check the level and concentration of your radiator fluid.
- If you added water to the system in the summer, make
sure the concentration of antifreeze is high enough. A
mix of 50% antifreeze and 50% water will protect your
vehicle down to -40°F.
The beginning of winter is a good time to make sure you
have new windshield wiper blades. Cold weather and ice
can damage wiper blades, causing them to become brittle
and crack. Make sure your wiper blades are in good working
order to deal with winter rain, sleet and snow.
Oil and Filter
Many vehicle manufacturers recommend that you
change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles. Some
manufacturers recommend using a different weight of oil
during the cold months. Check the owner’s manual for the
recommended grade of oil for winter.
Inspect your air filter, rubber hoses and drive belts.
Replace any belts or hoses that are worn below manufacturer
At the same time, check all of your fluid levels (brake,
power steering, differential, transmission and window washer
fluid). You may want to consider a deicing fluid for your
window washer to keep ice from building up during a storm.
Prepare A Vehicle Safety Kit
It is a good idea to prepare a vehicle safety kit. Make
sure you have all of the winter necessities in your car: an
ice scraper, tire chains, extra wiper blades/windshield
washer fluid, snow shovel, rock salt and some medium to
give you traction on slippery streets like kitty litter, newspapers
or old house shingles or sand.
Keep a box of emergency supplies in your trunk such as:
extra clothing, blankets, non-perishable snacks, eating
utensils, water (both for drinking and radiator refills), a
first aid kit, a flashlight and battery powered radio with
spare batteries, jumper cables and safety flares. Keep a
red or white flag to signal for help.
It is a good idea to keep a tool kit in your trunk yearround,
but it is especially important in the winter. Your
tool kit should include a screwdriver, wrench, pliers, rubber
hammer, lubricating oil and a piece of cardboard or
plastic for kneeling next to your car or getting under it.
You should also make sure that your car jack is in working
order and you have a lug-nut wrench.
Tune Into The Weather
Before you begin any trip, check for weather conditions
along your route. If roads are slick from rain, ice, or poor
surfaces, reduce your speed and proceed cautiously. Use the side of the road, if possible
and wait until the conditions
change. Keep your emergency
flashers on so that oncoming
drivers can see you. When you
start to drive again, use lowbeams
until the fog clears.
Alcohol, drugs, or other medications
can be lethal when you
drive. They affect your ability to
concentrate and impair your reaction
time which can lead to injury,
disability or death. If you are
angry, distracted, or tired, don’t
get behind the wheel – you’ll be
less able to react to potentially
dangerous situations. Be alert, be
aware, and be safe. That’s the professional
way to drive.
This article is dedicated to my
late father-in-law, who was
recently taken from us by a
careless driver. Harold (Pop)
O’Brien was 96 years old and
will be sorely missed. A Bostonian,
he would have loved to
live long enough to see Boston
win the world series. We all
believe he was up in Heaven
cheering for them all the way!
Drive safely this winter and all
year, all our safety depends on it!
For more information, click on the author biography at the top of this page.