08 Jan Winter driving you crazy? Here’s how to brave it on the roads
Winter is usually (thankfully!) mild here in Oregon but this one could be a little unusual.
That’s because we may be in for the effects of El Nino, the massive air system that forms over the Pacific Ocean and influences weather patterns across the Western Hemisphere. El Nino can bring warmer temperatures to much of the U.S. and in the Pacific Northwest, can translate to reduced precipitation. But El Nino can also present a weather crapshoot with a chance for some unpredictable effects, especially at a time when the climate is shifting.
With some potentially oddball winter conditions afoot, what should we do to stay safe on the roads? For starters, slow down! Whether you’re facing an unexpected snowstorm or icy streets after a nighttime freeze, going too fast for the setting is a surefire way to make your morning commute more dangerous than it needs to be.
Speed kills, and bad visibility doesn’t help. That’s where your windshield wiper blades come into play! Take a minute to inspect them and replace torn or otherwise broken blades. Just remember that wiper blades pick up dirt and grime that makes them less effective, so give them a good clean to prevent streaks on your windshield. While we’re on the note of visibility, make sure your defroster is working. You know why we mention it if you’ve ever attempted to drive without a defroster in cold or freezing temperatures. Let’s just say it’s a real pain to scrape the inside of your windshield.
Now that you’ve slowed down and can properly see, you’re going to want to make sure your tires can hold you to the road! A quick way to do that is to check that your pressure is up to par. Under- or over-inflated tires are easy to fix but are also a quick way to lose traction on slick roads, decreasing your ability to maintain control at the wheel. Speaking of tires, investing in a set of chains is always a good idea. Bonus points for actually learning how to put them on ahead of time!
As always, check to see the conditions before you head out on longer trips. And though it’s not always a safety thing, be sure to come by Scrubby’s at least periodically to wash off any caked-on road salt! That stuff can be nasty and corrosive, so you’ll be thankful for the scrub come spring.