Wet winter driving tips

We shared some safe driving tips for Thanksgiving last month, and the weather has only gotten cloudier and colder since the turkey leftovers went bad.

With a wet holiday forecast, it's time to remember that Cincinnati is host to a range of winter weather. Sometimes we get a few inches of snow, but rain and ice can cause just as much of a hazard on the road. With holiday travels and the kids home from school, it's time to refresh those winter driving skills.

First and foremost

The number one rule of winter -- or, truly, any season -- is to make adjustments based on the conditions of the road. This means slowing down as applicable, allowing safe distances for braking and scheduling trips with the idea that travel could take a little bit longer.

Maintenance and operation

Vehicle maintenance is always important but, in winter, minor issues become magnified. A bad windshield wiper is doubly challenging in the reduced visibility of a snowstorm or heavy rain, especially as salt from the road coats your windshield in an extra layer of white. Before any winter trip it's important to check tire air pressure and to verify fluid levels of antifreeze and wiper fluid to make sure that your holiday travels are as safe as possible.

With colder temperatures, any operational issue that causes a stalled vehicle comes with risk of exposure. Make sure that your vehicle is kept up. Keep an emergency kit with snacks and blankets in case the vehicle is stuck in the cold without heat. We may have smartphones these days, but everyone knows that batteries only die in the least convenient moment. In cold conditions and inclement weather, electronics and cellular signals may also be unreliable.

Never leave a car running in a garage and, if you're driving or stuck in heavy snow, make sure that your exhaust pipe is not clogged. Either situation could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Driving in wet weather

Rain, ice and snow: Cincinnati has all manner of cold and slick conditions that make our hilly slopes a unique driving challenge.

Rush hour quickly becomes slush hour in wet weather and adds time to any commute but the real concern in wet conditions comes with the aforementioned "number one rule of winter." Beware of other drivers and maintain a defensive philosophy behind the wheel.

When another vehicle is moving slower than you like, take a deep breath and back off. Accelerating quickly or driving through an unplowed street can cause an accident that will cost far more than a few minutes' delay.

If you can avoid a slippery hill, do so. If you have to, AAA recommends using inertia instead of the gas pedal to carry you against gravity. Accelerating makes the wheels spin, which loses momentum.

Celebrating the holidays safely

Equally important is to never drink and drive. December-January is a joyous time of year, even when the weather is less sunny. There are countless gatherings with the family, old friends and co-workers. Alcohol and driving never mix and, with reduced road conditions, the combination is even more deadly.

Anytime that you're in a collision you should take thorough notes and photographs at the scene of the accident and visit a doctor shortly after to make sure that no unseen injuries occurred. Scheduling a consultation with an attorney can help determine the best insurance settlements and if others are liable for additional damages after a crash.

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