In many states, you can get your driver’s license at sixteen. You might get yourself an old, beat-up car if you can scrape the money together, or maybe a parent or older sibling can give you their hand-me-down vehicle. A couple of years later, if you go off to college, you might take the car with you, particularly if you go somewhere out of state.
It can be nice having a car as you start your adult life. There are expenses like gas, insurance, and maintenance about which you’ll have to think, but if you live away from campus, you can avoid taking public transportation this way. You can also drive to get groceries, which saves you from lugging those bags all the way back to your apartment or dorm room.
However, when winter rolls around, driving in the snow might intimidate you. You’ll become more confident as the year’s pass, but your first cold-weather experiences might be a little nerve-wracking. Here are a few tips for college students who are also first-time car owners.
Get Snow Tires
The first thing we’d advise if you want to avoid winter weather driving accidents is to get yourself some snow tires. They might cost you in the area of $400-600 for a set of four, and as a college student, you might not have a great deal of money to spend.
Still, the investment is worth it. One thing you should realize is that when you buy those snow tires, they should last you several years. Often, you can store them at the same garage or auto body shop where you purchased them.
When winter comes, you can drive there, and they can put the snow tires on. When spring arrives, they can put the regular tires back on and stow the snow tires till next year. Snow tires make winter driving much easier, and you’re a lot less likely to skid and hit something.
Snow driving can intimidate you, but you don’t need to approach driving under these conditions very differently than you would normal driving. Slowing down is the most critical thing.
You might be a speed demon and rack up a lot of tickets when you’re a new driver. That’s dangerous at any time, but during the winter, it could be deadly.
You should never exceed the speed limit when there’s snow on the ground. Generally, you’ll want to go about five miles per hour under the speed limit during snow conditions. If you’re on the highway, expect to go ten miles per hour under the limit or even lower if there are whiteout conditions or heavy traffic.
Stow Cat Litter in the Trunk
You can also get yourself a couple of bags of cat litter and keep them in the vehicle’s trunk during the winter. If you get stuck in heavy snow, you might not be able to maneuver yourself out. The wheels jam, and then they spin uselessly if you’re not able to get traction.
You can sometimes alleviate this problem if you have cat litter or sandbags in the car. Cat litter or sand is a dry, granular material. You can take out the bag, open it, and then spread it behind the car’s tires.
If you throw the vehicle in reverse and drive it over the sand or cat litter, you can unstick the car. That’s a useful option because then you can drive to a safer area rather than having to call a costly tow truck.
Have an Emergency Kit in the Car
You should keep a winter emergency kit in the vehicle’s trunk. You might want to have a smartphone charger in there, and an ice scraper for clearing the windshield would be useful as well.
You may want to have some granola bars and bottled water, or other snacks that will last for several months before you need to replace them. You’ll want to have a flashlight and also some warm blankets if you’re stranded in the car for a while till help comes. You might think about putting jumper cables in there as well.
The longer you have your license, the better you will become at winter driving. The first few years might not be so easy, but the more you do it, the more skillful and confident you’ll be. As a college student, you can find out about winter driving at the same time you learn about various academic subjects.