Winter driving tips to avoid accidents
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Using a car in winter means facing challenges unlike any other season. A car ride that can be effortless in summer can be potentially fatal in winter. Ice can make your vehicle uncontrollable while snow can make your car immovable. This article will provide basic guidance on preparing for the perils of winter on the roads.
Preparing your Car
To reduce the chances of your car letting you down in winter conditions, get a winter maintenance check-up. This should include the following: car battery, which can have its efficiency greatly reduced in cold weather; tires properly inflated and with sufficient tread; antifreeze in the radiator; the ignition system which starts the car (spark plugs, alternator); examine hoses and belts for holes cracks or tears; replace old, ineffective windshield wiper blades; see that all the lights are working; check the oil level Ė perhaps changing to a lighter grade oil; the car heater and the brakes. The goal is to first ensure the car will start, and then will run without breaking down because of something that was preventable. And make sure you always have enough gas in the tank; a good rule of thumb is to not let the level slip below half-full.
After your car has been prepared you need to prepare yourself. Let others know of your trip, especially those at your destination, with estimated arrival time and planned route. Getting stranded in winter can be life threatening, so equip your vehicle with an emergency kit that could save your life. Drivers in remote areas are especially at risk, and are generally well aware of the importance of such kits, however the winter of 2010-2011 in Chicago provided a shocking reminder of the force of winter and the inability of humans to cope. The blizzard that hit the city on February 1, 2011 closed down Lake Shore Drive, one of the busiest roads in the nation. Cars with drivers inside were stranded in deep snow for as long as ten hours, only hundreds of yards from safety, in clear view of the downtown skyscrapers. With conditions outside making escaping on foot treacherous, some motorists began to wonder if they would make it out alive, and many undoubtedly wished they had packed an emergency survival kit.
Here are some of the items to include in your kit: blankets and extra warm clothing and even a sleeping bag; heavy boots; sturdy hat and gloves; high-energy food such as chocolate or energy bars, nuts and raisins; jumper cables; a tow rope; an ice scraper for the windshield; a small snow shovel; cat litter or sand for traction; bottled water kept in the warmest place to avoid freezing; flares or brightly colored cloth to attract attention; small candles and matches to provide basic heat in extreme circumstances and a whistle. A flashlight is essential but expired batteries can be a problem. Bring spare batteries or consider buying a combined flashlight, radio and cell phone charger unit, which is powered by cranking a handle.
Driving in winter
Driving on ice or on snow can be terrifying. Donít make it worse with bad driving habits. First, remove any excess snow from the hood, roof and trunk. Once you are back in the vehicle always buckle your seat belt: itís usually the law anyway but bad conditions underscore the importance. Adjust your speed to the conditions and give the car ahead of you extra space. Understand that bridges and overpasses will typically freeze before other parts of the roadway as they are surrounded by cold air. Braking on ice or snow is not the same as braking on a dry road in the summer. As a general rule brake early and gently, and donít pump the brakes if you have antilock brakes: the system will take care of it. Keep your lights on so you can see and be seen in poor visibility. Drop into a lower gear if appropriate, and watch out for snow ploughs: give them extra room when coming towards you and donít try to pass them as you may get blasted by the ploughed snow.
The importance of Insurance
Accidents are more likely when conditions are bad, so it is critical you have in place at least the mandated level of insurance required by state law. Not only will the insurance help provide financial protection, it is often the first thing police officers ask you for when they arrive at the scene of a crash. Not having insurance can make a bad day a lot worse, as you are could be faced with felony charges and eventually an SR-22 requirement.
Cynthia Garcia, marketing Director of Active Insurance Agency, which arranges thousands of auto policies for Illinois drivers, comments: ďWe generally see more car accidents during the winter months and a regrettably high number involve uninsured drivers. Being in an accident without carrying basic insurance can ruin the holiday season and could start off the New Year under a significant financial burden.Ē
About Active Insurance:
Active Insurance Agency has provided low cost auto insurance and SR22 for drivers in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin for nearly 50 years. Its online car insurance quotes make comparing automobile insurance rates quick and easy. Best of all, no credit score or driverís license number is needed to get a quote. Active Insurance also wonít ask for your Social Security number, so you can keep your confidential and personal information private. If you need a bond card, Active Insurance Agency has those too.