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Over the Hills and Through the Snow

Snow storm blowing on windshield of car

John Churchman/Getty

Forecasters are predicting a cold and blustery winter for Washington state this year. And while a winter wonderland can be pleasing to the eye, it can also present difficult and sometimes dangerous driving conditions. Now’s the time to start planning and thinking about how you’ll keep yourself and others safe on the road.

Start preparing your car now for wintery conditions. Have your vehicle serviced, check your tires, and consider all-season tires or chains for better traction and smoother slowing.

Visibility is crucial, so be sure your windshield washer has nonfreezing fluids in it. Make sure the heater and defroster are working properly. Keep all glass and mirrors as clean as possible, and be sure to remove ice and snow from the windshield and rear window before beginning a trip.

Wear appropriate clothing. Don’t wear such heavy clothing that overheating is a problem when the car warms up. Be sure shoes have good traction, and take a second pair if formal footwear is needed after arrival.

This time of year, the days get shorter and shorter and suddenly a major part of driving is done in the dark! All the situations that can be dangerous still exist, but now they are harder to see. For those who find driving in the dark a problem, some extra precautions will be helpful. Be aware of the time. When going into a store to shop in the afternoon, be sure that it will still be daylight when returning to your car. If it is going to be dark, consider riding with someone who can drive at night, or take public transportation. If morning meetings are a problem, see if alternative transportation is possible.

Be aware of weather forecasts. A change can be dangerous and warnings are important. Just to be safe, equip your car with emergency supplies such as blankets, food, water, spare fuses, a flashlight with batteries, an ice scraper, flares and a first aid-kit.

And finally, if conditions worsen, consider simply staying off the road if possible. If you must travel, look into public transportation options or reach out to family and friends.

Drive safely, take your time, and be alert. Winter is beautiful, and being careful and taking a few extra precautions while on the road can help ensure you enjoy the season and arrive safe and sound.

For more information on safe driving, consider attending an AARP Driver Safety Program class in your community. Courses are offered by trained instructors throughout the state, and are available in both a classroom setting and online. Information about a class near you can be found online or by calling toll-free 1-888-AARP-NOW.

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