With the recent extreme cold and snow, it’s safe to say that winter in New England is officially here. As we deal with below freezing temperatures and snow storms, bundling up and staying in seems more and more appealing. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t always shut down for bad weather. In the Northeast, driving in less than favorable winter conditions is a part of life. Here at Quincy Mutual Group, we want to make sure you’re staying safe on the roads, especially in the dead of winter.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your car for winter along with some important techniques to follow when driving on snowy, icy roads.
Before you go
Certain maintenance tips will help protect your car in the snowiest and coldest conditions. First, be mindful of your tires. Extreme cold can decrease tire pressure, so regularly check to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Check your windshield wipers to make sure they are in good condition. You should also fill your windshield wiper fluid reservoir regularly, and have extra fluid at home in case you run out. It’s also a good idea to always have at least a half tank of gas in your car during cold winter months. This will both minimize your risk of a frozen fuel line and help in case it takes longer than anticipated to arrive at your destination. Packing an emergency car kit is also important to make sure you are prepared to safely deal with any incidents you may encounter on winter roads.
Before you begin driving, remember to clear all of the snow off of your car — including snow that may not appear to obstruct your view, like snow piled on top of your car. This built up snow can slide either down your windshield or off the back of your car, creating a hazard for all drivers near you on the road. If you choose to warm your car up before driving, make sure you’re not doing it in an enclosed area, like your garage. When warming your car up outside, make sure your tailpipe is not blocked by snow, which could result in a lethal buildup of carbon monoxide in your car.
On the road
The best tip for driving safely in dangerous winter conditions is simple — don’t. If you can avoid making a trip in the car, do so. If you have to drive, however, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front of you.
- Drive slowly and give yourself extra time when doing things like accelerating, decelerating, stopping, or turning.
- Never use your cruise control in snowy or icy conditions.
- Be mindful of hills — try to gain inertia before reaching the hill instead of slamming on the gas as you go up the hill.
- Remember that bridges and overpasses are more likely to become icy in winter conditions and use appropriate caution.
- Mind the plow! Never crowd or try to pass a plow driver as they may have limited visibility.
- Familiarize yourself with your brakes as different brake systems require different usage on winter terrain. For example, if you have antilock brakes, you’ll want to apply firm, continuous pressure on your breaks, whereas drivers without antilock brakes may need to gently pump their brakes if they feel the wheels starting to lock up.
We hope everyone stays safe and warm this winter! If you have more questions about safe driving in winter weather or about insuring your car, Quincy Mutual Group works with over 500 independent insurance agents who are ready to help! Visit our website to connect with a local agent near you: bit.ly/QuincyFindAgent.