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How technology is making winter driving safer

December 29, 2015
Winter driving requires extra caution, but new technologies are giving drivers new tools to take on icy roads.

As most parts of the country know, winter driving requires extra caution. Precipitation, high winds and extreme temperatures may impact vehicle performance, visibility, traction or even infrastructure conditions.

Drivers have adopted extra precautions when venturing out in winter for many years. This may include driving slower, using snow tires or keeping kitty litter or sand in the car if needed for additional traction. However, as digital technologies change, so does our approach to winter driving safety.

"Social media and smartphone apps are providing drivers with constant updates about weather conditions.”

Today, social media and smartphone apps are providing drivers with constant updates about weather conditions, allowing for better preparation. Additionally, new in-car technologies are working to reduce the risk of accidents.

Accessing live safety information

Government agencies like the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use hashtags including #WinterSafety and #WinterPrep to spread important safety messages over social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. These alerts may include winter storm watches or updates on driving conditions. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will also tweet winter safety and preparedness tips through its #WinterWeather hashtag.

Several smartphone apps also provide drivers with ways to instantly receive and share the latest road condition information. As CNN noted, apps such as DarkSky use hyper-local radar information to provide weather forecasts for your exact area. Other apps such as WeatherMobb and mPING let users share information about nearby weather conditions with others.

In-car technologies

As Bankrate reported, advanced crash-avoidance features are helping make slippery winter roads more manageable. Cars with electronic stability control will use sensors to monitor steering and make modifications to braking or accelerating system in the event of sliding. Antilock brakes, forward collision warning systems and adaptive headlights are also being offered in many car models and can help to overcome poor traction and visibility.

More modest car technologies can also add to driver and passenger comfort and make winter voyages more bearable. Heated seats and steering wheels can cut down on shivers, while heated side mirrors and windshields can help ward off condensation from snow or fog and reduce glare from headlights. For vehicles in extremely cold climates where temperatures drop well below zero for long periods, block heaters an be used to keep engine blocks warm and make starting the car easier.