Expert testimony: 5 tips for safe winter driving - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Expert testimony: 5 tips for safe winter driving

Experienced drivers learn how to handle winter on the road. (© Kazimiarovich) Experienced drivers learn how to handle winter on the road. (© Kazimiarovich)
By Luigi Fraschini
Former science teacher Irv Gordon from Long Island, N.Y., knows how to put safe miles in his rear-view mirror. He's the pilot/owner of the record-breaking 1966 Volvo P1800 that has been cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest mileage non-commercial vehicle ever driven by a single owner. He's the kind of guy who jaunts to Pennsylvania for a cup of coffee or rolls off to the Grand Canyon for a long weekend. So he knows what it takes to plan and execute a safe, successful road trip.

What are three keys to road trip success, according to Gordon? He's a firm and fervent believer in patience, diligence and planning. And as someone who has taken more road trips than anyone you can name, he encourages drivers to be keenly alert on the roadways.

"The holiday season means more people are driving to places to which they are not familiar and are in their cars for lengths of time to which they are not conditioned," says Gordon. "Planning and diligence are key to ensuring a safe holiday road trip and that families reach the destination we all seek -- a Happy New Year."

Gordon offers the following driving tips for safe holiday trips:

Check Your Bulbs and More
"A person may spend hours checking every bulb on the holiday lights he's displaying in his front yard, but how much time does he spend checking his brake light bulbs?" Gordon asked. "Check your lights and turn signals. In fact, have a certified mechanic inspect for you, along with tire inflation and treads, brakes, fluids, etc. It's good to have a full tuneup before you take your trip."

Prepare for a Winter Wonderland
"While it may be 60 F and pleasant in Denver as you hit the roads at dawn, it might be 15 F and snowing as you pull into Boise at 11 p.m. that night," Gordon said. "Winter can be as unpredictable as Uncle Steve's crude jokes at the dinner table, so prepare for the absolute worst conditions -- even if the forecast tells you otherwise. Keep a blanket, ice scraper, an emergency roadside kit, snacks and bottled water in the trunk."

Rotate Your Drivers

"Let's all agree that everyone's attention spans are much shorter than they once were, so don't put it to the test on the roadways," Gordon said. "Switch out drivers every couple of hours. If you're driving solo or there's no other person with a valid driver's license in the car, take breaks at rest stops every 90 minutes or so. Stretch the legs and snack on some leftovers."

Put the Gadgets Away
"Make a rule that nothing requiring a battery charge reside in the front of the car. Cell phones, MP3 players, DVD players, etc. -- they are all potential distractions. Put them in the back or even the trunk," Gordon said. "In fact, make a rule that everyone put their gadgets away. Road trips are wonderful times to reconnect with family members and enjoy the beautiful views this nation offers."

Be Mindful of Others on the Road
"While the holidays bring out the best of us in person, it can bring out the worst of us behind the wheels," Gordon said. "Keep your emotions in check and be mindful of others on the road. Allow plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. Merge with caution. Keep in the right lane unless passing. Essentially, show goodwill toward all."

In fact, goodwill to all is certain to make each family's trip better, safer and more enjoyable. Common sense on the road can help all of you arrive safely at home.

Luigi Fraschini is a Cleveland-based contributing editor for Driving Today who writes frequently about auto safety and other auto-related issues.

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