10 Tips for Making it Through the Winter Season Accident Free

Driving in the winter is considerably more challenging even for exemplary drivers. This is especially true for areas of the country that routinely experience freezing temperatures accompanied by precipitation in the form of snow or ice. Using these ten tips will help you prepare for your cold weather driving adventures and hopefully allow you to make it through the winter season accident free.

Speed

The faster a vehicle is moving, the more time it requires to come to a complete stop. If you are accelerating rapidly, it can cause your vehicle to spin or slide. Instead, increase speed slowly and always be conscious of your speedometer in order to prevent yourself from reaching dangerous speeds. Additionally, do not set your cruise control when conditions are snowy or icy as it can make controlling the vehicle more difficult.

Brakes

On an iced road, the rules for braking are quite different from on a dry road. No matter how tempting, you must not slam on the brakes. Instead, begin braking at the first sign you may need to slow and do so slowly with a steady application of pressure.

Distance

During good weather vehicles tend to stay close to one another. While this is usually acceptable, during the winter it can lead to multi-car accidents. With frozen roads it is more difficult to stop and to maneuver; therefore, it is necessary to leave more distance between yourself and the other vehicles on the road.

Maintenance

Proper vehicle maintenance is crucial during the winter. Schedule a maintenance check and tune-up during the fall to be sure your battery, brakes, tires, and other components are ready for the coming season. You do not want to have your alternator fail or find yourself with a dead battery in the middle of your commute.

Safety

If you have never driven in the snow, or if you feel unsure of your skills, consider taking a winter weather-driving course or reviewing driving tips in your state manual or online. You need to be confident in your ability to recover from skidding, stopping in icy conditions, and driving in snowy conditions.

Time

Everyone finds himself or herself rushed at some point, either because they are late to an appointment or because they are anxious to get home and relax. Winter weather conditions make rushing very hazardous. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination so you will not feel rushed while you are driving.

Distractions

Driving in snowy and icy conditions requires the full concentration of the driver. While it is always dangerous to be distracted while driving by items such as cell phones, food, and electronic gadgets; it is especially so during inclement weather. Remove all distractions while you are driving in order to reduce your risk of causing and accident.

Clean

Take the time before each drive to completely inspect your vehicle and clean away any snow that has accumulated on the brake lights, headlights, windows, and front and rear signals. In stormy weather, it is especially important that these lights be visible not only so you can see, but also so that others can see you.

Weather

During the winter, it is especially important that you maintain constant awareness of weather forecasts. If the forecast warns that conditions will be hazardous in upcoming days attempt to prepare in order to not have to be out driving. Stock up on food and other supplies prior to the inclement weather. If you must drive during the weather, do so in a manner that is appropriate for the current conditions.

Bridges

Even if the weather has only just started to dip below freezing, you will need to be especially vigilant when crossing bridges or overpasses, areas that are infrequently traveled, and shaded areas as all of these locations are more likely to freeze quickly and making driving conditions quite dangerous.

While it is always best to take measures to avoid accidents, it is possible that you will still find yourself in an untenable situation. In case this happens, it is best to have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle that includes warm clothing and blankets, food, water, a source of heat and light, portable radio, deicer, and a cell phone.

Resources
Indiana Department of Transportation
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Massachusetts Public Safety

Image Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/woodsfehr/

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