Fort McCoy News December 13, 2013

Prepare vehicles to help mitigate winter driving risk

Winter is here. Being prepared for everything the season can hurl at drivers is imperative to mitigate winter driving risks.
Special care must be taken to prepare vehicles and drivers for winter-weather driving.

Vehicle preparation
Personnel should get a vehicle tune up or perform other routine maintenance to ensure there are no leaks, bad hoses, wiring problems or other needed repairs or replacements.

Photo for winter driving article
Conner Miles, an employee at the Automotive Skills Center, checks
to ensure the battery of a vehicle is in good condition in preparation
for winter driving. Authorized patrons can use the center to perform
vehicle maintenance and repairs.
Photo by Geneve N. Mankel

Batteries should be inspected for sufficient voltage, and serviced or replaced as needed.

Battery power drops in colder temperatures and the amount of battery power needed to start vehicles increases.

A vehicle's cooling system should have a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. The system should be checked for leaks as well as be flushed every few years to remove dirt and rust particles.

Maintaining the best possible visibility during winter is essential. Windshield wiper fluid should be replenished with no-freeze fluid, and wipers should be operable and not worn out.

Tires should also be inspected for air pressure, ample tread and wear patterns.

The Fort McCoy Automotive Skills Center, building 1763, is equipped to help authorized patrons prepare their vehicles for winter.

The facility has maintenance, lift, welding and tire-changing bays as well as a battery charger, hand tools, waste disposal, and more. Automotive Skills Center personnel are on hand to assist with car maintenance needs.

For more details about appointments and fees, call 608-388-3013.

The Automotive Skills Center is open Thursday and Friday 1 to 9 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vehicle supplies/equipment
Vehicles should be stocked with supplies for emergency situations and winter-driving tasks. Recommended supplies include:
• Snow shovel
• Ice scraper/snow brush
• Bag of salt, sand or kitty litter to provide traction if vehicle gets stuck
• Jumper cables
• Blankets
• Water and food
• First aid kit
• Tool kit
• Driving.

Plan ahead
Planning ahead and allowing extra travel time will help keep drivers safe. Before departure check the weather, road conditions, and traffic and plan accordingly.

Prepare vehicles by clearing snow and ice from all windows, lights, hood and roof. Gas tanks also should be kept close to full in case of a traffic jam or being stranded in snow. When road conditions are hazardous, avoid driving if possible, and wait until road and weather conditions improve.

Drive slowly, stay focused and alert and leave plenty of room for stopping. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse weather conditions.

Apply brakes correctly. Anti-lock brakes should have firm pressure applied while non-anti-lock brakes should be pumped gently.

Cruise control should not be used in wintry conditions.

For more information about winter driving safety, call the Installation Safety Office at 608-388-3403.

(Information in this story compiled from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.)