Driving in a Winter Wonderland: 5 Safety Tips

(StatePoint) Though the winter season has its joys, it also brings unique challenges – especially when venturing out in hazardous weather.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24% of all weather-related vehicle crashes happen on snowy, slushy and icy pavement, while 15% occur during snowfall or sleet. Here are five tips to protect yourself, your loved ones and your vehicle this season.

1. Invest in winter tires. Snow and ice can turn roads into a slippery nightmare, posing a real threat for drivers. Winter tires, also known as snow tires, are uniquely designed to increase traction in these conditions and can help avoid accidents.

2. Clear snow and ice before hitting the road. Though it can be tempting not to, especially when you’re in a rush, you should always fully scrape your vehicle’s windows and remove snow from its surface before driving. Leaving ice and snow to melt is more dangerous than you might think. It can slide down the windshield and block your view of the road, or even fly into nearby traffic, causing damage or obstructing the vision of other drivers.

3. Keep your distance. Ever heard of the “three-second rule”? Experts recommend leaving three seconds of distance between your vehicle and those ahead of you. To do this, watch the car ahead of you pass a landmark, then count to three. It should be at least three seconds before your car reaches the landmark. When the roads are slick or icy, be sure to widen the gap. Should you need to stop suddenly, the extra space will lower your chances of a collision.

4. Slow down!A recent national survey by Erie Insurance found that one in 10 drivers admitted to driving at extreme speeds (20 mph or more over the speed limit) during the early months of the pandemic, and many respondents say drivers are still going way faster than normal. Speeding is always dangerous and can be even more hazardous when roads are icy, making it harder to control the vehicle and avoid skidding. If your vehicle begins to skid, turn the steering wheel towards the direction you need to go.

5. Monitor and improve driving behaviors. Identify bad habits and become a safer driver year-round with a smartphone app like YourTurn from Erie Insurance. YourTurn analyzes behaviors such as hard braking, speeding and phone use, and offers incentives for safe driving through rewards that can be redeemed for gift cards or donated to charity.

“It’s especially important to be mindful of your driving behavior in the winter time,” says Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto at Erie Insurance. “By incentivizing safe driving habits, we hope to make the roads safer for everyone.”

For safer driving experiences, be sure you and your car are prepared to handle road conditions, this season and beyond.

Photo Credit: (c) Mariakray / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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