Motorists are urged to take care during Winter Driving Awareness Week

January 10, 2014 12:00 AM

You should be paying attention to vehicle maintenance throughout the year, but it becomes especially important during the cold-weather months. That's why January is a popular time for some drivers to get their cars up to snuff, and the occurrence of week-long events such as Winter Driving Awareness Week only underscores this point. 

"During Winter Driving Awareness Week, I'm asking all motorists to do their part to help increase safety for all drivers this winter season," said Barry J. Schoch, the secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. "Safety begins before drivers even leave home by ensuring that vehicles are properly equipped and mechanically ready to deal with winter driving challenges." 

Watch out for plow trucks
One area where some drivers may not pay close enough attention is dealing with plow trucks. These vehicles, which may consist of any automobile with a front plow attached, are necessary to clear the roads, but they can pose a problem to other motorists.

The Pennsylvania DOT recommends giving these vehicles ample room by moving as far from the center of the road as is safely possible. If the visibility is poor, you may not be able to accurately see the width of a plow, so leaving space is key. You should also travel at slow speeds to accommodate these automobiles. 

Because visibility plays such an important role in personal safety, there should be no stone left unturned when it comes to maintaining a vehicle. Check the headlights and taillights of a car before heading out on the roads, and test out your high beams periodically as well. Make sure any necessary car repair is complete, as the defroster, wipers, blinkers and brakes all need to be working at a high level. 

Use a professional
If you're unsure about what to do to get your vehicle ready for the most severe part of winter, take the automobile to an auto repair franchise to have a professional examine it. This should be done as soon as possible, and you should make an appointment early - especially if there is bad weather on the horizon. 

"While we have this temporary respite from winter weather, motorists should have their vehicle serviced now by a mechanic they trust," Schoch said. "A properly trained mechanic can check the cooling system, battery, hoses, drive belts, tires and wiper blades to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly." 

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