New England Winters bring automobile drivers all kinds of challenges and expenses. One of the most concerning is keeping our vehicles and ourselves safely on the road! It seems as soon as the first snowflake falls, pictures of cars and trucks that have slid off the road or collided with each other flood the fronts of newspapers and websites everywhere! What are we doing wrong? What are we doing right? As an Insurance Agent, I see a lot of claims submitted due to poor weather conditions while driving, one of the most prominent being ice and snow!
I have come up with 5 Winter Driving Safety Tips to keep your car safe on the road in 2020 so you can start the New Year off on a good note!
#1 Clean off your Car!!
I went to slow my vehicle down just last week as I was approaching a traffic signal and a sheet of ice and snow came sliding down off my roof and blocked my ENTIRE Windshield. Startled by my loss of vision, I hit the brakes a little too hard and felt my car fishtail since the roads were not great! Luckily, there was no incident but a huge lesson learned. One I preach, but clearly need to practice! Make sure if you need to head out, remove all the ice and snow from your vehicle for your own safety and the safety of others on the road! Clear Vision is a must out of all windows!!
#2 Brake Easy and Accelerate Slow!
As I learned from not cleaning my car off properly, when you brake hard, you can lose control of your vehicle! To avoid skidding or fish tailing, lightly apply pressure to your brakes when you wish to stop. This allows you to remain in control of your vehicle. In addition, leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you as stopping in poor weather generally takes longer than on dry roads! If you feel your wheels are spinning when you accelerate and are trying to gain traction, DO NOT press harder on the accelerator. Gently back off the gas and brakes until you feel the grip, then slowly begin going forward.
#3 Take it Slow
Speed Limits are Maximums, not Minimums in most circumstances. If the weather is bad, simply reducing your speed can be enough to keep you safe and help you to remain calm and in control! A steady pace and smooth movements to your wheel, brakes, and gas help your car to remain safely on the road! This is not the time for Cruise Control! In poor conditions, we recommend avoiding this setting.
#4 Four Wheel Drive isn’t Fool Proof
Too often we hear people tell us they have all-wheel Drive, Four Wheel Drive or electronic stability control. That doesn’t mean you can’t slide in the winter! While these systems are in place to assist us in our commutes during poor weather, there is still room for human error! Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security. Winter driving hazards still exist and it is your responsibility to take proper precautions to remain safe.
#5 Stay Focused and Calm!
Try not to Panic. I remember as a child being a passenger in the vehicle with my Mother. The snow was coming down so fast as we were on the way to my older brothers basketball tournament. I remember reaching for her hand and it was so clammy because she was a nervous wreck! If you take precautions, you can remain safe! Stay focused. Know that “black ice” can appear as a puddle or look wet or a darker shade of asphalt. If its below freezing, watch out for this!
While the best precaution is staying off the roads during hazardous road conditions, we understand that sometimes circumstance doesn’t allow that! If you MUST go out, give yourself some extra time, be cautious, and adhere to our Winter Driving Safety Tips!
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