How to Stay Safer on the Road this Winter

October 19, 2015

Thousands of people are injured or killed every winter because of overconfidence or unpreparedness while driving in dangerous conditions. It is important for everyone to keep safety tips in mind while driving in wintry conditions. The first step is making sure a vehicle is equipped. To do this, use the following tips:


  • Make sure the vehicle has enough antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.
  • Check the wiper blades for signs of damage, and replace them if necessary.
  • Test the vehicle's battery to ensure proper function.
  • Check the tread on the tires to be sure it is thick enough.
  • Put a blanket, a first aid kit, dry food, clothes and a gallon of water in the car.
  • Check the headlights to make sure they are both working and are clean.
  • Put a flashlight and several extra batteries in the car.
  • Always keep a pair of sunglasses in the car for combating snow glare.
  • Never drive anywhere in the winter without a cell phone.

Always drive slowly in the winter when the roads may be icy or wet. Driving too fast is the main reason why people get into accidents during the winter. Remember that having a four-wheel-drive vehicle does not make it safer to drive faster on ice. Do not accelerate suddenly or change lanes unnecessarily. When people make these moves, they can cause other motorists to have to make sudden decisions that lead to a loss of control.


Never tailgate another driver. Stay at least three to five car lengths behind the driver ahead. Tailgating can lead to accidents quickly. This is especially true in stop-and-go traffic that is moving slowly on slick roads. If a driver is going too slow, simply slow down and be patient. Pass only when it is safe to do so. When approaching intersections or other drivers, remember that it takes longer to safely come to a full stop on snowy or icy roads.


It is also important to understand what a four-wheel-drive vehicle is for. Having this feature can help a vehicle start accelerating or get through slush and mud. However, it will not help the driver stay on the road if the surface is slippery. When using four-wheel-drive vehicles or those without it, be sure to allow plenty of time to arrive at the destination. Budget extra time for traveling instead of trying to rush in unsafe conditions.


Another important tip to remember is to avoid using cruise control. When cruise control is activated and the car hits a slick spot on the road, it will cause the wheels to spin and the vehicle to speed up. This often leads to a vehicle going off the road or crashing into another one. It is best to simply turn off cruise control in the winter.


Many serious injuries come from accidents that happen when a second vehicle crashes into the vehicle or vehicles in a crash scene. Dealing with a fender bender on a busy road is bad enough. However, a serious accident can have even worse consequences. In addition to causing harm to other people, it can result in a spike in insurance rates. Being the at-fault driver in a winter accident that could have been avoided by driving safely can have years of negative financial repercussions. Follow the tips in this guide to stay safe, and discuss coverage with an agent to ensure it is updated and sufficient for individual needs.


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