With the cold weather arriving abruptly in central Montana, it is a good idea to take a few extra precautions when driving.
Is your vehicle prepared for the cold weather? There are a few parts of your vehicle you should check before venturing out onto the snowy roads. Do your tires have enough tread to give you grip? Check the level of tread in comparison to the wear line on the tire. If your tires do not have enough tread, it can make driving through the snow more difficult and dangerous. It is also good to check out your wiper blades. Worn wiper blades can make removing snow and ice from the windscreen difficult and impair your vision. Check your fluid levels and make sure your vehicle does not need an oil change.
Are your prepared for the cold weather? Even for a short drive across town, it is a good idea to have warm clothes with you, road cones, and a high visibility jacket. For longer trips, ensure you have water, extra warm clothes and a space blanket. It is important to be prepared to be stuck in your car for an extended period of time.
Only attempt to dig out or free your vehicle if it is safe to do so. If your vehicle slides off the road and is stuck, only attempt to free it if it is safe to do so. It can be best to call for help and wait for help. If the road is too busy, do not attempt to exit the vehicle to free yourself. Another vehicle could slide off the road and strike someone trying to help a stranded vehicle.
Sand bags and a small snow shovel are often the most helpful tools in freeing a vehicle. Something to dig out the vehicle and give the tires grip is the best way to free a stranded vehicle. Again, only attempt to do this if it is safe to do so.
Have a fully charged phone when traveling in the winter. Most of us need our own cell phones to be able to call someone for help and we often use our phones as a flashlight. It is important for your phone to be charged in case you need to call for help. If you are making a longer trip in the winter, make sure to tell a friend on family member about it. Have a plan to call someone when you arrive to your destination safely.
Plan ahead! This means a few different things. Plan ahead by giving yourself enough time to complete a journey and not have to rush. Understand that your braking times are increased when the roads are snowy or icy. Do not make unnecessary trips when the weather is bad. Look ahead at the forecast and make your grocery trips on the days when the weather is best.
All in all, take your time, be prepared, be cautious and stay safe.