If you live or vacation in parts of the country that experience snow storms, you’re well aware of the challenges. What you might not know is that traffic fatalities actually go down on days when snow fall is heaviest, mostly because people have the good sense not to drive or choice but to stay put until the snow plows have cleared the roads. People who do venture out on the first day of a snowfall tend to drive more cautiously. Here are some tips to help you drive safely all winter. Being a safe, considerate and prepared winter driver will help you avoid car insurance claims and keep your auto coverage premiums low in the process.
First things first, be sure your car insurance policy is up to date. Review your coverage and make any changes. While you’re at it, it never hurts to shop around and compare auto insurance policies online.
Have your car winterized. While most winter accidents are caused by driver error rather than mechanical failure, put the odds in your favor. Have your battery, brakes, belts and hoses check out and repair or replace worn parts. Check fuel, air and emission filters and replace as needed. Check your anti-freeze levels. Inspect tires and spare. Now’s a good time to rotate your tires, too. If you don’t have snow tires, invest in a good set of chains before you need them. And make it a good winter habit to always keep your gas tank close to full.
Put together a winter emergency kits to carry in the trunk of all your vehicles. Essential elements should include:
- Jumper cables or a battery-starter that works from inside your vehicle
- Bag of salt or cat litter for traction
- Flash light and extra fresh batteries
- Flares or emergency signaling device
- Wooden stick matches
- An emergency radio (ideally one that can be cranked and double as a cell phone charger)
- Cell phone
- Non-perishable high-energy food (hard candy, power bars, dried fruit, etc.)
- International orange flag or other bright material
- A gallon of fresh water
Always give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going and lessen the temptation to speed in bad weather. Slow down when approaching bridges and shaded spots where icy patches may be hiding. If you are stalled, light flares fore and aft of your car and hang a bright piece of material from your antenna. Then call for help and stay in your car bundled up while you wait for help. If you must turn your car heater on, be sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and crack a window slightly for fresh air.