Winter Driving: Are You Prepared for Bad Weather?
Rain, sleet and icy rain make for messy and dangerous road conditions. Winter is truly a challenging time to be a driver. We love snowfall but we don’t like it when we lose control behind the wheel. But it happens to the best of us. Sometimes, we take every precaution and still experience skidding, swerving and dangerous turns.
The chances of having an accident are much greater because of winter storms, car troubles and inexperienced drivers braving the icy roads for the first time since they got licensed. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are more than half a million crashes every winter. While you may not be able to prevent all accidents, there are ways to minimize losses. We want to help with the following tips.
- Avoid Driving. If schools are closed, it’s usually a sign that you should stay inside because road conditions are just too dangerous. If the weather is bad, it’s better not to take the risk of driving, if you can avoid it. If you have no choice (work, kids, etcetera), make sure that your tires are in good shape with plenty of treads (yes, both front and back ones!). If you live in an area that experiences extreme snow, hopefully, you’ve invested in sturdy snow tires.
- Carry Higher Limits. Many people renew in January, which is a good time to add extra coverage or switch carriers. Get multiple free car insurance quotes using higher liability limits and adding both comprehensive and collision coverage, even if you only plan to buy full coverage for the winter months. Even when a policy is not up for renewal, you can make changes to it by adding or subtracting new coverage. Changes usually go into effect right away. If you know your chances of having an accident are extremely high during winter, why not mitigate that risk by offsetting it with insurance? This way, any mishaps along the way will be paid for, instead of weighing on your wallet.
- Lengthen Your Distance. What does the DMV say a good distance is between you and another car? The length of two cars. It’s not a bad idea to stretch that out to at least three cars when road conditions are at their worst (that’s approximately 5 to 6 seconds). Not only does it take longer for your car to come to a safe stop in bad weather (you must slow down quite a bit first so you don’t spin out in the snow), but you may also want to lag behind a little in case the car in front of you swerves out of control. The more space you give yourself, the lower the chances that you’ll have a collision with another car.
- Drive Slowly. You will not swerve as much if you drive slowly. Don’t worry about anyone else behind you. If they are in a rush, they can pass you. If it’s snowing or the roads are not paved, you’re in the right to be cautious, especially if you know your tires are not in optimal shape. Braking to an abrupt stop is most cars often swerve out of control. When you drive slowly, your stops are less abrupt and the chances of your car spinning out are much lower.
- Buy Roadside Assistance. The winter months are when most drivers need assistance with their cars breaking down on the road. Car troubles include everything from dead batteries and flat tires to keys locked inside cars. Car trouble can literally leave you out in the cold if you’re not prepared. After you buy roadside assistance, you may be given a different number to contact if you are ever in a situation where you need help on the road. Keep that number handy at all times! Below-freezing temperatures increase roadside assistance calls four times the usual amount each year. If you live in a winter wonderland, it’s important to first check and see if you already have roadside coverage on a policy (it may be called something different by your carrier). If you do not have it, it’s a really good idea to buy it for the winter months. A better idea is to compare different car insurance rates with this coverage added on so you don’t pay too much.
- Consider Car Storage Insurance. If you have more than one car and the one you love the best handles the worst in winter, you probably never drive it during the winter months. Consider storing it this season. Of course, you should take care to start it, let it run and keep it well maintained even when you don’t drive it. And drive it, you cannot. If you have an accident with storage insurance, your losses will not be covered. However, if you can keep away from the wheel, you can save a considerable amount if you bundle this with regular auto insurance for the workhorse you do drive in the snow. Compare several auto insurance rates for free before you buy!
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