Safety Tips for Winter Driving
Ready or not, another New England winter is upon us. With colder temperatures settling in, it’s more important than ever to make sure your car is ready to endure the extreme weather conditions. The farmer’s almanac predicts winter storms could bring heavy snow and sleet to cities like Hartford and Boston.
To help you stay safe this upcoming snowy season, Bearingstar Insurance is here to provide you with safe and easy tips for navigating winter weather in your car.
Winter Car Prep
It’s important that you have your car prep for the worst-case scenarios. This includes having a winter driving survival kit, an ice scraper, a foam brush, a snow shovel, and road salt. As winter approaches, you should also ensure that your car is ready to go by having your tires replaced or updated to snow tires if needed.
Before You Leave
Make sure you’re keeping both yourself and others on the road safe. Before you leave, the first step is to ensure that your car is completely cleaned off. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, you can be pulled over and legally prohibited from using the roadways if they determine that debris, including snow and ice, could fall from your vehicle and endanger another driver or pedestrian. The fines can range between $40 to 200 dollars.
- Remove ice and snow from your vehicle before driving.
- Clear all windows, windshield, wipers, headlights, and brake lights.
- Clear the roof so ice and snow do not blow into vehicles behind you.
Low temperatures in the winter may also lead to low tire pressure, which can be extremely dangerous. Always check your tires before leaving and inflate them as needed at your local gas station.
Distractions when Driving
Distractions happen — even when driving. However, it is more important than ever to stay present during the winter season while behind the wheel. According to the Federal Highway Administration, each year, 24%of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement, and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet. An easy way to keep both you and your family safe this winter is to stay focused and free of distractions while driving.
Here are some tips:
- Put your phone on silent mode or ‘do not disturb’ so you are not distracted by notifications.
- If you can’t resist the urge to look at your phone, put it in the center console, glove box, or even back seat are great places to stash your phone while you’re driving.
- Finish eating, getting ready and setting your music and GPS before you start driving.
- Always keep both hands on the steering wheel when driving.
- Place items you may need, like a water bottle or sunglasses, in a place that’s easily accessible, so you’re not searching for them while driving.
- Ensure all items are secure in your car before you go — reaching for something rolling around in the backseat can be a major distraction while driving.
- If something comes up as you’re driving that does require your attention, safely pull over before addressing it.
Winter Driving Tips
If you can’t avoid being out in a storm here are some tips to help you navigate the roads in the safest way possible.
- Drive slowly – Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly – Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Increase your following distance – Begin to have a 5 to 6-second following distance between you and the car ahead. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Learn your brakes – Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. This allows you to have much better control of your vehicle amidst a storm!
We know the roads you drive on because we drive them too. As your local insurance agent, we are more than happy to guide you through the entire auto insurance claim process and answer any questions you may have.
Contact us at one of our Massachusetts or Connecticut offices for a free consultation or to get a quote.