You can feel winter in the air in the last few days. Get ready for the snow, you know it's coming. I thought I'd bring you some Winter Driving Tips, thanks to Bridgestone.

BEFORE YOU DRIVE:

» Check windshield wiper blades to make sure they work properly. In some areas, snow blades are an effective alternative to conventional wiper blades.

» Have your mechanic test the anti-freeze/coolant to provide the correct level of protection required in your driving area.

» Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Letting air out of tires to drive in snow can reduce the gripping action of tires because the tread will not meet the road surface as it was designed to do. Over-inflation has the same effect.

» Use dedicated snow and ice tires if you live in areas where snow and ice are certainties of winter driving. Snow and ice tires have a softer tread compound and a unique tread design to provide enhanced traction and road-gripping capabilities. Install snow tires all the way around the vehicle, not just on the drive axle.

» Keep your gas tank at least half-full. The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems within your fuel system. It also adds a margin of safety should you become stopped or stranded during your trip.

» Try to remove ice and snow from your shoes before getting in your vehicle. As snow and ice melt they can create moisture build-up, causing windows to fog on the inside of the vehicle.

» Scrape the ice and snow from every window of the vehicle and its exterior rear view mirrors, not just a small patch on the windshield. Don’t forget to clean the headlights and brake lights.

» You and your passengers should always use safety belts including lap and shoulder straps. Pull them snugly to ensure they work properly.

» Adjust headrests so that the driver or passenger’s head rests squarely in the center of the headrest. Rear-end collisions are common in winter driving and a properly adjusted headrest can prevent, or reduce, neck injuries.

» Turn off your radio. Although your radio can provide helpful traffic information, it can also be a distraction for some drivers. Remember, driving is AS MUCH a mental skill as a physical skill.

» Don’t use a cellular phone. Even if you have a hands-free model, you need to concentrate on driving, not on a telephone conversation, when driving on ice or snow.

» Keep your vehicle stocked with simple emergency equipment in case you do get stalled or have an accident.

Consider keeping these items in your vehicle:
1. A blanket or extra clothes
2. A candle with matches
3. Snacks
4. Beverages (never alcohol)
5. Flares
6. C.B. radio, cellular phone or hand radio
7. Long jumper cables
8. A small shovel
9. A flashlight
10. A windshield scraping device
11. A tow rope
12. A bag of sand or cat litter for traction

» During winter months, keep abreast of weather reports in your area. If snow or ice is predicted, make plans to leave early or arrive later. An alarm clock set to an earlier time can be a good friend in helping you avoid difficulties.

» If you can move a night trip to daylight hours, do so. Not only is visibility better during daylight, but if your vehicle is stalled, you are more likely to receive prompt assistance during the daytime.

» Before you shift into gear, plan the best route to your destination. Avoid hills, high congestion areas and bridges if possible.

Bridgestone

That's just the beginning I'll be posting suggestions for "How to handle your vehicle" once on the road in the next series.