Icy roads, reduced visibility during snowstorms and getting stuck in a snow pile – these are some of the joys of being a winter driver in regions of the country where weather can be severe. Roughly 70% of U.S states experience snowy winter conditions, which put drivers at more risk of having an accident. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHW), nearly 900 people are killed and 76,000 people are injured in crashes that resulted from snow or sleet each year. Chances are that you live in or visit a state that turns into a winter wonderland from December through February, so you may need to check your car insurance policy to make sure you have adequate coverage and brush up on driving safety tips before the next snowfall!
By now you should have ‘winterized’ your car and checked the tires, which 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 drain faster in colder weather; make sure you have anti-frost windshield wiper fluid; and check your car’s make and model for any recalls that may endanger you and your family on wintery roads.
Even if you’re in a rush, do not pick up speed. If possible go even slower. Even more so than during rainfall, the ground is slick with ice if it’s below freezing temperatures. You will lose control of your car if you brake hard on icy roads. No matter what kind of emergency you are having, 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.
Don’t drive too closely to a snow plow and be careful if passing plows, which are actively working on the roads and may not notice you. Don’t crowd in a snow plow either. If you can, keep your distance because they stop often. Don’t park near them either. If you can, avoid street parking where snow plows may damage your car. If this happens to you, you’ll have to contact the police and file a claim against the city’s insurance company. Tell your insurer about the claim you filed immediately after filing.
These things happen at the worst of times, it seems. However, keep in mind that your battery gets more drained in winter than it does any other time of the year. If you have a roadside situation, remain calm and get your car to a safe area if you can. Turn on the hazards and lights to bring attention to the vehicle so other cars do not hit it. If your car is stuck in snow, first check to make sure the exhaust pipe is clear if you need to warm up using the heater. Stay with your car until help arrives. These are the times you’ll wish you had roadside assistance coverage!
Snow plows are not the only thing to be wary of. Keep your distance from other cars as well, in case they brake unexpectedly on icy roads. Increase the distance to five seconds rather than the standard two.
Don’t power up a hill and don’t stop before you make it over the hill. Sliding backwards after an abrupt stop is awful, and so is the dangerous stunt of accelerating.
Cruise control plus icy roads is a sure-fire way to increase your chances of an accident because your car will slide all over the place.
Check weather forecasts before taking a longer trip. If there is a storm heading your way, it is best that you stay home.
The chances of having an accident are always higher at night. Adding slippery roads to the other challenges will increase the chances of a crash even more. Avoid driving at night, especially during and after snowfall.
If it rains after a snowstorm or the snow melts into puddles, you may hydroplane. Do not cut the wheel in the opposite direction if your car begins to spin out. Simply turn into the direction the car is already going until it stops. Then, proceed slowly.
Snow, ice, and road salt may impair visibility. Don’t let snow sit on top of your car. Make sure to scrape off the snow and clean the car, especially the windshield and windows.
It’s not a bad idea to add collision coverage to your during the winter season because accidents are more likely to happen. However, it is not required unless you are financing your car or leasing it. Full coverage auto insurance is always a good idea unless your car is worth less than, say, $3000.
It’s true that deflating tires can help in the snow. The problem is once you get on paved roads, the deflated tires may become very dangerous. It’s usually best to leave your tires alone and make sure they have the manufacturer-recommended psi.
- Prepare your vehicle for winter conditions as soon as possible. Have a mechanic look at everything, from your tires and fluids to your battery’s life expectancy.
- Stay home before, during and after a storm, until roads are paved.
- Make sure you have adequate car insurance in case of an accident.
Driving in winter conditions is never fun but if you have no choice but to do it, take heed of our tips and drive especially cautiously. Make sure you have car insurance because car accidents happen more often due to winter road conditions. Consider buying roadside assistance and full coverage, especially if your car is worth more than a few thousand dollars.
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