It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for drivers, winter is filled with snow, ice, sleep and dangerous driving conditions. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 22 percent of all accidents are weather-related. Before you warm up your car and hope for the best, there are precautions you can take to make sure your trip is safer.
At Insurance Navy, we have compiled the following five tips for safe winter driving.
Apply gas and brakes slowly to avoid skids
Instead of applying the gas or brakes suddenly, gradually apply pressure to the gas pedal to increase your speed or let off the pedal slowly to reduce speed. If you can, avoid using the brakes as much possible to reduce the chances of sliding and skidding.
Reduce your speed to maintain better control of your car
While driving in dangerous conditions, you should not be concerned with your commute time. Leave your home earlier than usual and anticipate longer traveling times. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends drivers reduce their speeds by a third on wet roads and by at least half on snowy roads. Reducing speed helps drivers maintain better control of their car and also gives them better reaction time.
Increase your following distance
During normal, dry driving conditions, the recommended following distance between cars is between three and four seconds. In winter months when driving conditions are more dangerous, the following distance should at least be doubled to make it easier and safer to stop in snowy and wet conditions. If another driver is tailgating you, allow them extra space to be able to safely pass you. Do not speed up and put yourself and others at risk.
Do not use cruise control while driving on slippery roads
When driving in wet conditions, it is best to turn off cruise control. Cruise control keeps a car at a constant speed. If a driver has cruise control activated and needs to press on the brakes to slow down when the roads are wet and slippery, this may cause a car to skid. Tires are also more likely to lose traction in winter months due to the ice and water on roads. If a vehicles loses traction with cruise control activated, this may cause it to spin and keep accelerating. Cruise control is a great feature when roads are in good conditions, otherwise it may cause drivers to lose control of their car.
Check the pressure on your tires
The pressure on a vehicle’s tires decreases in the winter. Under-inflated tires can affect a car’s steering. If you can, invest in a set of winter tires. Winter tires are made of a rubber compound that stays flexible, even in lower temperatures. This allows a driver to have better controlled handling.Winter tires also have steep slits in their treads that helps prevent hydroplaning and increases traction.
As always, make sure you are have proof of insurance at all times if an incident were to occur. It may also be a wise choice to add affordable comprehensive and collision coverage and a quality roadside assistance service to your policy during winter months when you are more likely to be part of an accident.