Icy roads, limited visibility during snowstorms, and getting stuck in a pile of snow are some of the joys of being a winter driver in regions of the country where the weather can be harsh. Approximately 70% of US states experience snowy winter conditions, putting drivers at a higher risk of accidents. According to the Federal Roads Administration (FHW), almost 900 people are killed and 76,000 people injured in accidents caused by snow or sleet every year. Chances are you live in or visit a state that turns into a winter wonderland from December to February, so you may need to check your auto insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage and before the next snowfall, driving safety tips refresh!
By now you should have “winterized” your car and checked the tires that lose air in colder weather. If not, take your vehicle to a professional and have the fluids and tires checked for winter safety. check batteries; which expire faster in colder weather; make sure you have antifreeze wiper fluid; and check your car’s make and model for recalls that could endanger you and your family on winter roads.
Even if you are in a hurry, do not speed. Drive even slower if possible. Even more than when it rains, the ground is icy when the temperature is below freezing. You will lose control of your car if you brake hard on slippery roads. No matter what kind of emergency you have, drive slowly.
In fact, if you can, roll to a stop. Avoiding hard braking in icy conditions is the best way to avoid an accident.
Do not drive too close to a snow plow and be careful when passing plows that are actively working on the roads and you may not notice them. Also, don’t crowd into a snow plow. If you can, keep your distance because they often stop. Also, don’t park near them. If possible, avoid parking on the street where snowplows could damage your car. In this case, you need to contact the police and file a complaint with the city insurance company. Immediately after reporting the claim, inform your insurer about the claim you have submitted.
These things happen at the worst of times it seems. However, remember that winter drains your battery more than any other time of the year. If you have a roadside situation, remain calm and move your car to a safe location if you can. Turn on the hazards and lights to draw attention to the vehicle so other cars don’t hit it. If your car is stuck in snow, first check if the exhaust pipe is clear if you need to warm up with the heater. Stay with your car until help arrives. These are the times you wish you had roadside assistance coverage!
Snowplows aren’t the only thing to watch out for. Also keep your distance from other cars in case they brake unexpectedly on slippery roads. Increase the gap to five seconds instead of the default two.
Don’t drive up a hill and don’t stop before you’ve made it over the hill. Skidding backwards after an abrupt stop is terrifying, as is the dangerous stunt of accelerating.
Cruise control and icy roads certainly increase the risk of accidents as your car slides all over the place.
Check weather forecasts before embarking on a long trip. If a storm is heading your way, it’s best to stay home.
The likelihood of having an accident is always higher at night. Adding slippery roads to the other challenges increases the chance of an accident even more. Avoid driving at night, especially during and after snowfall.
When it rains after a blizzard or the snow melts into puddles, you can take a seaplane ride. Don’t cut the wheel in the opposite direction when your car starts to spin. Just turn in the direction the car is already going until it stops. Then proceed slowly.
Snow, ice and road salt can impair visibility. Don’t leave snow on your car. Be sure to scrape off the snow and clean the car, especially the windshield and windows.
It’s not a bad idea to add collision insurance during the winter season as accidents are more likely to happen. However, it is not required unless you are financing or leasing your car. Comprehensive insurance is always a good idea unless your car is worth less than $3,000, for example.
It’s true that tire pressure can help in the snow. The problem is, once you hit paved roads, deflated tires can become very dangerous. It’s usually best to leave your tires alone and make sure they are at the manufacturer’s recommended psi.
- Prepare your vehicle for winter conditions as soon as possible. Have a mechanic take a look at everything from your tires and fluids to your battery life expectancy.
- Before, during and after a storm, stay home until the roads are paved.
- Make sure you have adequate car insurance in case of an accident.
Driving in winter is never fun, but if you have no other choice, heed our tips and drive extra carefully. Make sure you have car insurance as car accidents are more common in winter due to road conditions. Consider buying roadside assistance and comprehensive insurance, especially if your car is worth more than a few thousand dollars.
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