As season changes, so should driving habits

  • Thursday, September 17, 2015 3:48pm
  • Opinion

It’s that time of year: the autumnal equinox is quickly approaching, and with what feels like a deluge of rain over the past couple of weeks, Kenai Peninsula roadways are getting dark and dingy.

With that in mind, it’s a good time for peninsula drivers to make sure vehicles are ready for the change in seasons. We haven’t seen the word “snow” show up in any weather forecasts just yet, but overnight temperatures are dropping and icy morning commutes can’t be too far off.

For starters, check your headlights. Are they both working? High-beams too? Are they properly adjusted so you won’t blind oncoming drivers? Make sure you have a rag handy to clean them off, too. Splashing through mud puddles can leave them dirty, making it harder to spot things in and along the road.

Some other things to consider as the season turns:

■ Check your antifreeze. Make sure it can handle temperatures that get as low as 20 degrees below zero.

■ Do you need an engine block heater? They are designed to help your engine start easier in cold weather.

■ Be prepared: Do you have winter wiper blades, jumper cables and washer fluid? These basics can make a difference when the weather is bad.

■ Get a tune-up. This is the best way to make sure you don’t have an unexpected breakdown. Any problems can be corrected before the cold makes them a major issue.

■ Check your oil and other fluids, belts and your battery. It only takes one thing to turn a simple trip into a nightmare.

Now think safety behind the wheel. You’ve heard the tips from us many times, but they bear repeating. If one more person puts them into practice each season, it’s potentially one less accident. With that in mind, here are some winter driving reminders:

■ Common sense is the best defense against accidents. This means slow down and increase the distance between your car and other traffic. Slowing down not only drops your chances of locking bumpers, it also saves you fuel, which saves you money.

■ Moose will appear out of nowhere. Slowing down and glancing the road’s edges help eliminate problems.

■ A winter survival kit can keep an inconvenience from turning into a catastrophe. It should contain a flashlight, blankets, booster cables, a warning device (flares or reflective triangle), a small bag of abrasive material (sand or cat litter), a cloth towel or roll of paper towels, a small shovel, water, some emergency food and a book of matches.

■ An ice scraper and good windshield wiper blades are a must for good visibility. Don’t try to save time by scraping just a little hole in the frost off your windshield. A credit card is no substitute for an ice scraper. Avoid those drivers who have not cleared their windshields — they can’t see you. Also, don’t forget to clear the snow from your headlights and taillights.

■ No matter how short a trip you’re making, dress for the weather. If you have car trouble or are involved in an accident, you’ll be glad you took the time to don your boots, coat, hat and mittens. At the least, keep some winter clothes in the car for an emergency.

■ Four-wheel drive does not protect you from accidents. It may help you maneuver through snow, but it absolutely will not help you stop on a slick road.

Autumn goes by quickly here on the peninsula. Spend a little bit of time now to make sure you’re ready for what we all know comes next.

More in Opinion

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Session ends with budget, dividend and bills passed

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

The Alaska State Capitol. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Listen to PAs; support Senate Bill 115: Modernizing PA Practice in Alaska

Health care is rapidly evolving, demanding a more flexible and responsive system

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion file photo)
Opinion: Hilcorp Alaska: Powering Southcentral Alaska — past, present and future

Hilcorp Alaska has and will continue to fully develop our Cook Inlet basin leasehold

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Collegiality matters

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Juneau Empire file photo
Larry Persily.
Opinion: Alaska might as well embrace the past

The governor, legislators, municipal officials and business leaders are worried that the Railbelt will run short of natural gas before the end of the decade

The Alaska State Capitol on March 1. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Physicians oppose Alaska Senate Bill 115 — Independent Practice for PAs

Alaskans don’t want access to just any health care, they want access to high quality care

Norm McDonald is the deputy director of Fire Protection for the Alaska Division of Forestry & Fire Protection. (Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service)
The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
Opinion: This wildfire prevention month, reflect on ways to protect each other and our communities from wildfire

Alaskans saw what happened in Canada last year, and they know it can happen here too