Guide to Safe Winter Driving

Here in New England, it’s not uncommon for winter weather to last through March — remember the April Fool’s Day blizzard in ‘97? So far this year we’ve been lucky with mild weather, but it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether you’re traveling north for February school vacation or commuting through a storm, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you get to your destination safely before you even get on the road. 

Before You GoAhead of a longer trip or when there is a storm in the forecast, you should visit your mechanic for a quick check-up to identify any leaks, worn out parts, or warning signs of a potential problem. Getting familiar with your vehicle and reading the manual can also help you understand how features work in different conditions, such as four-wheel drive and stability control. Before you hit the road, you should also check your car battery, windshield washer fluid levels, headlights, brake lights, and tires (as temperatures drop, so can tire pressure).

Having an emergency kit on hand in your car is essential year-round, but especially in the winter. Keep common supplies that might be helpful in an emergency and be sure you have easy access to them. Some items you should have in your emergency kit include:

  • Snow shovel and ice scraper
  • Material such as sand to help get your vehicle out if stuck in the snow
  • Jumper cables, a flashlight and emergency markers
  • Blankets, food and water, extra medicine you may need, and a cell phone charger

The last step before you get ready to go is to double-check the weather along your route and destination. Allow for plenty of time to get there safely and familiarize yourself with the directions and local areas before you go. You may also want to consider letting a friend or a family member know your anticipated arrival time so they can check in on you and ensure you safely reached your destination.

On The Road

The key to safe driving is staying alert. Schedule time to stop to stretch and take breaks, return calls or text messages, and change drivers if you feel too tired. You should also avoid risky driving behaviors such as speeding, driving impaired, and using a mobile device. It is also important to note, starting on February 23, the new hands-free law will be in effect in Massachusetts. This new law prohibits any driver from using a mobile device unless it is used in hands-free mode and is properly mounted in the car.

If you do encounter winter conditions while on the road, the first step is to slow down as it can be difficult to control or stop your vehicle on a snow-covered or icy surface. Also, keep an eye out for plows and leave a safe distance between your vehicles. In an emergency, and if you find yourself stuck in wintery weather, remain calm and follow these three safety rules:

  • Stay with your vehicle and avoid overexerting yourself.
  • Use emergency markers to make it easier for emergency personnel to identify your car and keep the interior dome lights turned on if you can.
  • Avoid running your car for long periods of time with the windows up or if you’re stuck in an enclosed space. If you do need to run your vehicle, make sure the exhaust pipe is cleared and only run long enough to stay warm.

We hope these tips help keep you and your family safe on the road. If you have more questions, we work with over 500 independent agents who are ready to help. Visit our website to find a local agent near you:   


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