According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you are 36 percent more likely to be in a car accident in January than in July. Accidents mean more claims on your automobile insurance policy, which will jack up the rates next time you look for car insurance quotes. Use these tips for driving smart in ice and snow. It can help you lower your auto insurance quotes and stay alive to enjoy the discounts.
You’re dealing with three primary issues during snowy winter months: your driving habits, your ability to see the road around you and all-important traction.
- Let’s start with traction – the ability of your tires to grip the road. Those four little patches of rubber the size of a salad plate can make all the difference between life and death. Let’s assume your tires are good quality, in good condition and properly inflated. The 100% traction they deliver on a dry day in August diminishes to 30% or less in winter, especially if the road is coated with ice. Drive in a January snowstorm the way you did in summer and you’re much more likely to skid, slide and lose control if you have to stop in a hurry or hit a turn at too high a speed. The next sounds you hear will be the sickening crunch of metal on metal and breaking glass. Bye-bye good driver car insurance discount.
- In winter you need to adjust your driving style to the road and weather conditions. Watch for black shiny patches of black ice and avoid them. Keep in mind that bridges, shady areas and overpasses freeze up sooner and thaw out slower. Approach them with caution. In slushy conditions, your tire wheel wells can pack up with snow and impair your ability to steer. If you suspect they have, pull over to a safe place and clear out the impacted snow. Slow down, keep more braking room between you and the car ahead, accelerate gently instead of gunning away from a stop, and apply the brakes gradually, gently at first with a steady increase in pedal pressure as you slow.
- If you do go into a spin or slide, don’t hit the brakes. Instead, ease up slowly on the accelerator until you sense you have traction and control back. Don’t steer wildly as that will just exacerbate the spin or slide. Keeping your hands on the steering wheel, turn it gently toward the direction you want the car to go.
Before you take to the road, turn your car heater on and allow you windows to warm up. Then scrape the ice off the surface. Don’t forget to clean the wiper blades, mirrors, headlights and tail lights. Once you’re on the road, drive with your headlights on so other cars can see you. And maintain extra distance between you and the vehicle ahead so you don’t get temporarily blinded by the back spray of snow from a big truck or bus. Driving smart in ice and snow can help you bring down the car insurance costs too.