Winter driving: small things make a difference

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- On Jan 10 I, like everyone else reporting late to base, carefully made my through snow and slush to the base gate. As my ID card was being checked, the gate guard pointed out that my left rear tire was a little low. I thought to myself that since it was still 15 minutes before reporting time, I should stop by the base gas station for air on the way.

I pulled into the gas station and tried to put air in my tire but it was coming out faster than I could put it in. I tried and tried as my hands stung with cold and the snow seeped through my shoes into my socks. After finally giving up, I went inside the Express Class Six to buy some fix a flat and then filled the tire with air.

It was a good thing I decided to head there first or I would've had a flat in my building's parking lot and would have had to be out in the snow with a jack and a spare. I'd like to thank the guard for pointing out the low tire to me. I would also like to point out to everyone that in adverse weather conditions you should never overlook our put off any problems with your car before or while driving.

Here are a few steps you can take to prepare for winter weather driving:

-Check your antifreeze in the radiator to make sure it is full.

- Take the time to check the tread depth on your tires and replace them if needed. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board says you need at least 2/32 of an inch of depth to be safe. The old penny test is as reliable as anything to find out whether your treads are ready for winter action.

-Be sure to check your tire pressure and add air when needed. Cold weather reduces tire pressure, so check and adjust frequently.

-Replace those old beat up wiper blades that you've had all year.

-Have your squeaky breaks inspected and replaced! Stopping with bad breaks is risky enough without adding snow and ice into the equation.

Having your car prepared is the first step but while driving in winter weather conditions you should also keep a few more things in mind.

General winter weather safety tips:

-Slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. Being a defensive driver is more important now than ever.

-Pack a winter travel safety kit and throw it in the trunk. Recommended items would include an ice scraper, some cat litter (for use as a traction aid), a blanket, a (working) flashlight, and a can of de-icer.

I hope this helps everyone drive a little more carefully and keep safe this winter.