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Ten winter driving don'ts

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Rough winter weather can produce treacherous driving conditions such as snow and even worse, black ice. Slippery roads can be a downright nail-biting experience for even the most seasoned driver. So when you're behind the wheel this winter, put a lid on those foolish driving maneuvers that could wind up disastrously and when decision-making, always allow your more sensible side to take the reigns!

1) Don't Think Your SUV Is Invincible. Whether you're in a four or all-wheel drive vehicle, or you have traction or stability control, don't drive fast or tailgate especially during bad weather conditions. Many drivers believe that these types of features offer miraculous grip even in the most treacherous of weather conditions and will keep you on your intended path without fail. Well, truth be told, all vehicles can slip and slide if the road conditions are bad enough, so no driver should maneuver their vehicles with a false sense of security.

2) Don't Drive On Gas Fumes. During the winter it's smart to keep your gas tank full in case you're faced with long, slow stretches of driving with no services in sight. Driving with at least half a tank of gas will also prevent gas line freeze ups.

3) Don't Overlook Winter Tires. Winter tires kind of fell by the wayside when the all-weathers picked up in popularity. Now winter tires have made a comeback: they have improved gripping power and are made with high-tech treads to ride more softly on ice and snow, than the ones from yesteryear. Experts say that all-weather tires are mediocre at best for gripping during ice and snow, and that winter tires are a safer investment for all types of vehicles. Word to the wise--if your tire treads are worn, junk them now before they leave you on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck or even worse.

4) Don't Forget to Check... Essentials such as your car's heater, defroster and windshield wipers can be your salvation especially during a brutal winter, if they're malfunctioning, get them repaired pronto. Is your car's battery able to make it through another spell of bitter cold? Are your brakes up to par?

5) Don't Drive Without a Proper Emergency Kit. Always carry an ice scraper, shovel, blanket, flashlight, booster cables, emergency flares and first aid kit. During the winter you might want to throw a small bag of kitty litter or a piece of carpeting in your trunk just in case you get stuck in the snow; either will give your tires momentum to dislodge your vehicle out of a drift.

6) Don't Forget to Let Someone Know Where You're Going. If you're heading out in bad weather don't neglect to tell someone where you're going and which route you're taking, because you just never know.

7) Don't Drive Those Back Roads. When bad weather strikes, back roads take a back seat, where road crews are concerned. Don't risk getting stuck on a road that might not get traffic during a bad snow or ice storm.

8) Don't Drive With Poor Visibility. Don't take the lazy route and only clean a small peephole of ice or snow off your windshield. In some states it is illegal to drive with poor visibility. Make sure to fully clean your windshield with an ice scraper or brush. By no means use hot water to get ice off your windshield because you might crack it.

9) Don't Let The Car's Heater Make You Sleepy. You have to stay awake at all times when you get behind the wheel of a car but driving in bad weather, all of your senses should especially be on high alert. Car heaters have the tendency to make many drivers sleepy, so don't set it on full blast. If you do have to set the heater on a high setting, crack your window to get some fresh circulating which should keep your eyelids from drooping.

10) Don't Drive If You Don't Have To. If the weather bureaus are predicting the worst of the worst, why venture out on the roads if you don't have to? Allow the road crews to make safe all that Mother Nature has dealt and when the coast is clear, you can take off.

Check out a hot new item that just hit retailers this fall, the Blizzerator. The 3-in-1 flexible ice scraper, snow brush and squeegee will help you clear the ice and snow from your vehicle in a cinch. No batteries, no plugs and if you have a tall vehicle like an SUV, the telescopic Blizzerator will allow you to easily push all of the snow off its roof without having to lean into the vehicle and all while standing on one side. The Blizzerator is sold at Sears.com, Kmart.com and at select Sam’s Club locations nationwide—priced from $19.99 to $24.99. www.Blizzerator.com

--Car Chick®

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For other Safe Winter Driving Tips check out the video above produced by AAA.

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