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Navigating Winter Weather: College Student's Guide to Safe Driving

Navigating Winter Weather: College Student’s Guide to Safe Driving

Owning a car in college is a boon. You don’t have to rely on friends for lifts to and from class and won’t freeze while cycling to campus. However, driving in the colder winter months presents serious challenges. Snow, ice, and extreme cold can present precarious road conditions that increase your risk of accidents and collisions.

Get ahead of the winter weather by equipping your car with winter tires and altering your driving style to handle slippery roads and wet weather. This will keep you safe while on the road and ensure you make it to all your classes and social activities on time.

Preparing Your Vehicle

When searching for your first car, you probably weighed up variables like mileage, style points, and fuel efficiency. However, when the cooler months roll around, you’ll need to reassess your car to ensure that it can stand up to the winter weather.

Start by taking your car into the garage for a service between October and early December. This gives mechanics a chance to find faults, check your tires, and refill your oil. This also minimizes the risk of a breakdown while on the road and can save you money by ensuring that your car is running correctly.

If you live in an area that experiences snowfall, cold conditions, and icy roads, you should invest in a set of winter tires. Winter tires are essential in cold climates, as snow and ice can reduce grip on the road by up to 50%. By upgrading your wheels for the winter, you can improve your stopping time and enjoy heightened traction when others are sliding around the road. You can swap out your winter tires in spring, too, which will improve the longevity of both sets over time.

You will also need an emergency kit for your car in the winter. This should feature a candle-powered heater, a flashlight, a cell phone charger, and a small tool kit. If you expect to be driving in an area that experiences heavy snowfall, you may also want to pack a shovel and some kitty litter to help remove snow and help you gain traction when driving on ice. A basic first-aid kit can also be handy in an emergency, as can a set of warm gloves, hats, and a scarf.

Altering Your Driving Style

Driving in the winter presents a series of challenges to you as a driver. You’ll experience reduced grip thanks to ice and rain and may have to drive in the dark more often when the days grow short. Altering your driving habits to accommodate these challenges is key.

Start by leaving earlier for classes and social activities. You don’t want to rush while on the way to campus when driving in winter weather, as driving at speed is sure to increase your risk of a crash when the road conditions are poor.

Try to research your route before you leave and study from home in the event of extreme weather. However, if you do find yourself driving in extreme weather, make appropriate adjustments like:

  • Snowstorms: Heavy snowfall can render roads impassable and drifts can trap you in your car. If you can drive, slow down and leave a longer gap between you and the driver in front.
  • Flooding: Driving through flood water can damage your car’s engine and put your safety at risk. Standing water also increases your risk of hydroplaning. Stay safe by driving slower than normal and turning around if you encounter flooded roads.
  • Fog: Fog dramatically reduces visibility and increases the risk of a collision. Minimize your risk of an accident by navigating built-up areas like campuses with care. Make sure your fog lights are working properly before you set off, too, as this will help you be seen by other road users.

Driving in the winter is all about minimizing risk and slowing down. Leave earlier when possible and try to stick to roads that you know are well-maintained. If possible, try to do the bulk of your driving a few hours after the sun has risen, as this will reduce your risk of hitting a patch of black ice in the cold winter mornings.

If you do hit a patch of ice, try not to panic. Keep your speed consistent and do not overcorrect your steering. Overreacting will increase your risk of going off the road when you clear the ice. Instead, pick a higher gear and aim to keep your RPM low. Pull over if hitting the ice has rattled your confidence and start again slowly when you’re ready to drive safely.


Navigating the winter weather safely requires forward planning and a risk-averse mindset. Get started by servicing your car before the cold weather rolls in and install winter tires. This will minimize the risk of a breakdown, reduce the chances of an accident, and keep your car insurance costs down. If possible, avoid driving in extreme weather and study from home after heavy snowfall. If you do drive in extreme conditions, slow down and leave plenty of room for other road users.

SEE ALSO: Navigating the Uncharted Waters: What Students Aren’t Prepared for in College Life

Navigating Adulthood: Essential Steps for College Students

Navigating Adulthood: Essential Steps for College Students

Adulthood is an entirely different experience than the one you’ve had as a college student. More responsibility is just the beginning of what you can expect when you’re fully immersed in your adult life. This alone can make you reluctant to embrace what’s to come.

Fortunately, with the proper preparation, knowledge, and skills, you can graduate and move into adulthood seamlessly. You’ll be equipped with what you need to thrive in this next stage of your life, making the shift to being an adult more enjoyable than it is daunting.

Take these steps to help set yourself up for a smooth transition into adulthood.

Set Goals for the Future

Hopefully, you’ve been thinking about what you want your life to look like after graduation. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to take your vision for the future out of your head and get it onto paper.

Setting detailed goals for the future helps you establish a solid foundation for adulthood. When you know where you’re going, you can create a practical plan to get there. Also, research shows that you’re more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down.

Document goals that support your vision for your adult life. For example, let’s say you’re going to school to become a licensed therapist. One of your goals could be to operate your own practice within 10 years after graduation.

You can take this goal a step further and put together a step-by-step plan to achieve it. There’s a lot involved in becoming an owner of a therapy practice, like deciding on a business structure, finding a building, determining your method of compensation, and crafting a marketing strategy.

However, when you break all of these elements down into digestible steps, achieving this big goal becomes more realistic.

Plan the Next Steps in Your Career

You may have been able to get by on financial aid or a work-study position while in college. But you’ll need a much more reliable source of income in adulthood to live independently and comfortably. So, solidifying the next steps in your career before you graduate is a must.

The ideal situation would be having a job waiting for you once you get your degree. It’ll take some finesse to make this happen. But it’s doable.

Start with networking. Join professional organizations in the industry you want to work in that are tailored to young up-and-coming professionals. Meet people at conferences and events on campus. Network with your professors and fellow students as well to see what opportunities they can introduce you to.

We also want to acknowledge that a lot of students won’t land a job before they graduate. And many already have jobs that don’t align with their degree to make ends meet while they work toward their dream careers.

In either case, it’s still important to take some time to hammer down the next best step in your career after you graduate.

Improve Your Financial Literacy

The National Financial Educators Council analyzed financial literacy statistics in a recent article, and one in particular stood out. “54% of millennials expressed worry that they would not be able to pay back student loans.”

Because of the increased use of student loans, it’s even more important for graduates to gain a sense of financial literacy to pay off these loans and still lead a successful career.

In addition, understanding the ins and outs of financial management now will set you up for financial security in the future. The pillars of financial literacy are:

  • Budgeting and tracking your daily spending;
  • Investing wisely;
  • Establishing an emergency fund;
  • Paying down debt efficiently;
  • Saving for retirement;
  • Tracking your credit history and score.

Developing discipline in each of these aspects of money management is the difference between living comfortably or living with financial insecurities.

Start by creating a budget you can stick to. Determine how much you’re bringing in each month and what you’re expenses are. Anything left over after paying your bills should go toward paying down your debt, your emergency fund, and/or retirement.

Mastering budgeting seems to unlock the rest of the financial benefits people long for. So, this is a great beginning point in your financial literacy journey.

Make Your Holistic Health a Priority

If you’ve become accustomed to an unhealthy diet or put off working out and taking care of your mental health while in college, you wouldn’t be the first student to do so. Grinding for your degree seems so much more important.

But the truth is, neglecting your holistic health does you more harm than good, especially if you’re faced with the challenge of the final years of your college career. When you don’t prioritize eating well, exercising regularly, and taking care of your mind, you can’t bring your best to school, let alone life.

On the contrary, if you do prioritize these things, here’s what follows:

  • More energy;
  • Better decision-making;
  • Increased productivity;
  • Higher self-esteem and confidence;
  • Stronger joints, bones, and muscles;
  • Better functioning immune system and internal organs;
  • Reduced risk for chronic mental and physical health conditions.

You have a much better chance of flourishing in adulthood with the above outcomes than without them. So, make sure you’re positioned to make your holistic health a priority.

If you haven’t yet, sign up for health insurance. Take your time understanding the intricacies of health insurance plans, including definitions for common health insurance terms, types of plans available to you, and what services are covered. You’ll make a more informed decision this way.

Once you get your health insurance squared away, make an appointment with a primary care physician. They can tell you the state of your health and help you develop a plan for improving it that includes a personalized nutrition and exercise program.

Final Thoughts

Although adulthood is a new territory for you, it’s nothing to be afraid of. Use the advice in this article to confidently step into your adult life with the mindset and skills you need to flourish.

SEE ALSO: Six Routes to Widening Your Skill Set When in the Job Search Process