How to Adult: Driving during winter

A car drives down an icy Beta Lane. Photo by Ben Caylor.


Attending Butler University means students experience the loveliness of Indiana winters and everything they entail, including harsh cold, tons of snow and the frequent switch to an oddly warm day which gives hope for spring. As much fun as this is, there are important things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your car functioning properly. Luckily, the Collegian has all of the tips for you.



Although it may seem obvious, it is important to note that driving conditions change once winter begins because of sleet, ice, snow or a combination of all the forms of winter precipitation.

The most dangerous conditions are the ones you cannot see. Commuter student Nadia Issa, a first-year economics and finance major, said she worries the most about black ice.

“I always take corners extra slow while I am driving in the winter because hitting a patch of black ice and sliding is terrifying,” Issa said. “It is not something I can watch out for, so I just assume it is there and slow my driving way down to avoid an accident.”

Additionally, winter brings severe temperatures which can damage your car, including your engine and tires. Having the correct fluids in your engine could save a lot of troubles down the road.

Michelle Stigter, director of the Modern Language Center, warned her FYS students, especially the ones not used to Indiana weather, to pay attention to their car engines.

“Make sure that your antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids are for cold climates,” Stigter said. “That will make sure that nothing freezes and bursts and cause more damage. Also, be sure to run your cars for a few minutes so the engine can warm up before starting to drive.”

Having good tires are helpful as well for traction to avoid dangerous slippery situations. Advice for tires and other good tips can usually be found on various news sites.


Safety Precautions

Even with all the knowledge of how to keep your car running properly, there may still be a situation in which you get stuck because visibility is too low or you get trapped in a ditch or a pothole.

Jesse Van Gerven, instructor of science, technology and environmental studies, learned a few tips for surviving the snow from growing up in Chicago.

“I would recommend keeping not only a basic emergency winter kit in your car with non-perishable snacks and warm clothes in the car, but also some sort of digging device, like a shovel, in case you do get stuck.” Gervan said. “Remember that even if you wait out the storm in your car you have to periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe to allow for carbon monoxide to escape into the air. Keep at least a half of tank of gas in your car at all times during the winter.”

The essential emergency items to have would be extra warm clothes, a digging device, snacks, an ice scraper, flashlight and a fully-charged portable charger.


When in Doubt

Especially in Indiana, winter is never a guaranteed forecast, so there may be situations when you have no idea what to do. When these questions arise, turn to the internet if possible, and use your best judgment to stay safe.

Commuter student Abby Marcum, a first-year marketing major, said even though she only lives about 10 minutes from campus, she typically leaves 40 minutes early to get to class on time.

“When the weather is bad though, I leave at least an hour early to make sure I can take my time on the roads,” Marcum said. “There is no handbook on how slow to drive or how early to leave, you just have to take your best guess.”

All-in-all, listen to the advice you are given and use precaution throughout the winter months to keep you safe and looking forward to the sunshine.


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