Higher accident rates go hand-in-hand with higher car insurance premiums. It goes without saying that winter driving conditions are the most challenging for drivers. Statistics show that nearly twenty-five percent of all weather-related crashes involve icy roads, snow, or slush. That’s because drivers can’t see as well, and slowing down and stopping on time can be compromised by road conditions.
Ideally, everyone would stay off the roads during these dangerous conditions, but that isn’t always possible. So, if you must travel during winter weather, follow these winter driving safety tips. Preparing your vehicle—and yourself—before and during the trip will remove some of the stress of driving under adverse conditions. It will also put the odds of returning safely in your favor!
Before you go
Before you venture on to those snow-covered roads, put together a vehicle survival kit, which includes an ice scraper, a snow shovel, and some salt. You will then be prepared for the storm that blows in when you’re away from home. Also, check your tires. Properly inflated tires with good tread are a must on slick roads. If you usually use snow tires, have them on your vehicle before the first snow arrives.
Fill up your gas tank at the start of your trip, and don’t let it fall below half. If you are stuck or stranded, you’ll want to have plenty of gas to run your engine and keep warm. Also, check your wiper blades and replace them if they’re streaking your windshield. It’s hard driving in slippery conditions; it’s even harder if you don’t have a clear look at the road. And don’t forget to fill your windshield fluid reservoir—it will help you clear snow and ice from your windshield.
Charge your phone before you leave. It’s a good idea to sign up for weather alerts texted to your phone, but it’s not a good idea to check them while you’re driving.
Driving tips while on the road
If your vehicle has been setting outside, clean it off before you leave. And that means clean everything: windows, mirrors, all lights, roof, hood, and trunk. Always drive with your headlights on and keep them clean to improve visibility. Be extra careful in areas where snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic.
When you’re on the road, keep in mind that speed limits don’t apply to roads that are covered with snow and ice. Slow down and increase your following distance. Maintain as much control of your car as possible by avoiding cruise control in slippery conditions. Bridges and overpasses are the first surfaces to become icy, so use caution when you’re crossing them. Accelerate gently and brake with extra caution. Don’t pass snow plows and salt trucks. The road is much safer behind them than in front of them. Remember, safer driving means less chance of incurring an auto insurance claim, injury or worse.
If you get stuck
If you get stuck, stay with your car. You could get lost in a heavy snow if you set out on foot. Bundle up and sit tight. You can run the car heater for 10 minutes every hour. Just make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. You don’t want deadly carbon monoxide seeping into your vehicle because snow has blocked the pipe. Be extra safe by cracking your window to prevent any buildup.
Winter driving is always challenging. If you must be on the road, remember these tips
- Drive slowly
- Give yourself more time to stop
- Pay attention to the road
- Always wear your seat belt
If it’s possible, err on the side of caution. If you aren’t sure it’s safe to drive, wait until you are sure.
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Sadly, sometimes accidents are unavoidable. They just happen. If you are involved in an accident this winter, you’ll be glad you had the right insurance.
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