While safe driving should be top of mind all year round, drivers should be extra careful during winter months when both weather and driving conditions worsen. On average, 17% of all vehicle crashes in the United States are a result of winter conditions. Disclosure 1 In order to reduce the risk of winter-related accidents, drivers should make sure their vehicles are prepared for harsh winter conditions and that they themselves are prepared to operate their vehicles in winter weather.
How to prepare your vehicle
1. Check your tires or get snow tires
Tire pressure drops as the temperature drops, so make sure your tires are inflated. If you’re not getting snow tires put on your vehicle for the winter months, make sure the tread on your tires aren’t worn so that they can properly grip the snowy, icy roads.
2. Always have at least half a tank of gas
To avoid getting stranded on the side of the road with an empty tank, make sure you have enough gas to safely (and warmly!) get to your destination.
3. Top off your wiper fluid
Driving down snowy roads means sandy, salty slush getting flung onto your windshield. To ensure you can see the road clearly, confirm that you have enough wiper fluid to easily clean the muck off of your windshield.
4. Clean off your car
No one wants chunks of ice and snow flying off of the car in front of them and onto their windshield, so be a courteous, safe driver and clean off your vehicle. If your vehicle has camera lenses or sensors that you utilize, remove dirt, snow and ice from them before you start driving.
5. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle
If your vehicle does end up sliding off the road, running out of gas, or draining its battery, you want to make sure you’re able to stay safe while waiting for help. In case of emergency, keep these items in your car:
- Blankets, gloves, and coats to keep you warm
- Ice scraper and shovel
- Jumper cables
- Cat litter (it might sound crazy, but cat litter helps tires gain traction when roads are iced over!)
6. Never leave your car running in an enclosed space
We all prefer getting into a warm car on a cold winter day, but make sure you don’t warm up your car while it sits in your closed garage. When your car emits exhaust for long periods of time without any sort of ventilation, it puts your family at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Avoid running your car in an enclosed space and double check that snow isn’t clogging your exhaust pipe.
How to drive in winter conditions
7. Slow down
It’s easier to control your car on slippery roads if you’re going a safe speed. This includes slow acceleration and braking—no one wants to fishtail while turning onto a main road.
8. Increase space
Put more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Even if your brakes are in good condition, icy roads make it harder for your vehicle to stop suddenly. Give yourself more space between vehicles to avoid unnecessary collisions.
9. Don’t use cruise control
Along with driving slowly, you want to make sure you’re alert and in control of your vehicle should another vehicle suddenly stop, slide off the road, or start spinning on ice.
10. Wear your seatbelt
This is a tip you should always follow regardless of the season. With the increased risk of collisions in winter months, a good safety precaution is making sure anyone in your vehicle is buckled up.
Do you have the right amount of auto insurance coverage?
In the event of an auto accident caused by winter conditions, it’s important to have the right auto insurance coverage to protect your vehicle (and your wallet). McGriff has relationships with the nation’s top-rated insurance companies, and we can quickly and easily provide auto insurance quotes for you.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Winter Driving Safety,” accessed Dec. 22, 2020, https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-safety#note(opens in a new tab)
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