Driving in bad weather
The best way to avoid a winter-weather accident is to stay off the road entirely, but we know that’s not always possible. Keep these tips in mind to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Make sure you always have enough gas, windshield wiper fluid, and antifreeze; keep extra wiper fluid in your trunk, and make sure the blades are in good condition. Keep a winter emergency kit in your car, consisting of a flashlight, batteries, cell phone charger, blanket, water, snacks, gloves, boots, and a first-aid kit. As winter approaches, have your brakes checked.
Before you hit the road
- Don't forget to clear snow from your vehicle before driving-including the roof. (The drivers behind you will thank you.)
- Check your car's tire tread and wear. Minimum tread is 1/16" for adequate traction.
While you're driving
- Go slow, accelerate slowly and don't use cruise control on wet or icy roads.
- Watch out for black ice. Roads that seem dry may actually be the most dangerous.
- Keep your headlights on in bad weather, even during the day. This is not only to help you see but to help other drivers see you.
- The safest following distance on normal, dry pavement is three to four seconds. On ice or snow, allow eight to 10 seconds of following time.
- If you can't see a snowplow's side mirrors, the driver can't see you. Stay at least 2-3 car lengths behind, and watch for sudden stops or turns.
- Be extra careful driving on bridges, ramps, overpasses and in shaded areas. They tend to freeze first.
If you get stuck
- Clear the area around your exhaust pipe, then turn on the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour while waiting for help.
If you get a flat tire, or run out of gas, what are your options? You might have an auto club service, or you can purchase optional Towing and Labor coverage with your auto policy. It covers towing and labor for disabled vehicles, not just after accidents.
Thanks to the Insurance Information Institute for some of the above tips.