5 Steps for Safer Winter Driving in Atlanta and North Georgia

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Even with our warmer climate, Atlanta usually still sees some severe winter storms each year that can make driving conditions hazardous. Photo By: Chris Costes via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Even with our warmer climate, Atlanta usually still sees some severe winter storms each year that can make driving conditions hazardous. Photo By: Chris Costes via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Winter conditions can make driving more dangerous—even in relatively warm climates like ours in HOTlanta. We usually still see some severe winter storms each year that can make driving conditions hazardous, according to Ready Georgia.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office says that winter storms can be extremely dangerous, contributing to traffic accidents on icy roads or leading people to become stranded in inoperative cars in the cold, which can put them at risk of hypothermia. While the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) reminds Georgians that it’s safest to just avoid driving in icy weather, the agency says you can also help reduce the risks this winter by making sure that your car is properly winterized to be able to handle colder weather.

Here are some simple things that you can do to help be safer on Georgia’s roads this winter:

Tires

Well-maintained tires can help you to stay in control of your vehicle, the Better Business Bureau says. Thin or uneven tread will not offer you good traction in icy or wet conditions, and may be a sign that new tires or an alignment are needed.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution adds that colder temperatures can lead to lower tire pressure, a condition that could lead to tire failure. Check your tire’s air pressure before driving in wintry conditions, and check the air pressure in your spare tire regularly, too.

Battery

Your battery will need to work harder to keep your car powered in cold conditions, so the BBB recommends checking it to ensure that the cables are corrosion-free and tightly hooked onto your battery terminals. The AJC also advises that you should consider having a professional test your battery’s charge if it’s more than 4 years old.

Coolant

Your car’s systems will be stressed during operations in colder temperatures and overheating may occur, so it’s important to make sure your coolant system is operating properly, says the BBB. The AJC adds that you may need to change out your antifreeze, and that flushing your coolant system can be done with a little effort at home.

Wipers and Lights

Visibility can be key to safely navigating wintry conditions, so make sure that your windshield wiper blades are in good condition and the wiper fluid reservoir is full. Also, don’t think about substituting water for wiper fluid, cautions the AJC, because the water could freeze, cracking your reservoir and failing you when you need to be able to see clearly. Wiper blades designed for improved performance in severe cold and snowy weather are available and may be appropriate for Georgians who face increased snow and icy conditions regularly in the north Georgia mountains.

The BBB adds that you should also make sure to inspect and replace any burned-out light bulbs in your car’s headlamp or signal light system.

Emergency Kits

Finally, you may want to consider keeping an emergency winter kit in the car in case it breaks down, leaving you stranded, forcing you to wait in the cold or walk a long distance for help. Insulated clothing and gloves, an ice scraper, a flashlight and batteries, jumper cables and even a pair of comfortable walking shoes can improve your comfort and safety when you need it most.


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Nicole Markle

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