Winter weather in many regions of the country means finding yourself driving in the snow. Since your risk of an accident is likely to increase during the snowy season, it's in your best interest to take every possible step to reduce your risks and stay safe if something should happen. Here are some tips to help you be safe on the road and protect yourself if you're in an accident or stranded. After all, the better prepared you are, the less risk you'll have of needing to file an auto insurance claim.
Preserving Your Visibility
Visibility is key to avoiding an accident when you're driving in the snow. Since the winter months bring not only snowfall but also shorter days, you're likely to find yourself driving through the snow in the dark.
The clearer your headlights are, the easier it will be for you to see and for others to see you on the road. As your headlights age, their light production will decrease. You'll want to replace your headlight bulbs at least every two years, and make sure you keep them clear of snow before you hit the road.
Another factor of visibility is emergency lighting and beacons. If your car can't be seen from the road, the chances of emergency services finding you can be slim. Keep emergency flares, bright yellow flashlights and similar emergency lighting in your car as a safety precaution so that you will be visible in the storm.
Checking Tires and Brakes
Icy and wet road conditions can hinder your car's braking function. In the snow, it can mean sliding and potentially hitting a car in front of you. The newer your brake pads are, the better they will work, even in these conditions. Additionally, you'll want to be sure your tires have sufficient tread to respond on wet and slippery roads. Consider investing in snow tires to help improve your traction on the road during the snowy season.
Building an Emergency Kit
Even with good visibility and traction, you'll want to be sure that you are prepared in case of an accident. With the right emergency kit, you can reduce your risk of serious medical claims on your auto insurance. Here's a look at some of the most important things you should include in your car as the winter weather approaches.
- Water – this can be tricky, because water jugs tossed in the trunk are likely to be frozen in winter weather. Opt for smaller bottles so that you can thaw them in the passenger compartment, or pack a small camping stove and pot to warm it. You'll want two to three gallons of water total, just to be safe.
- Food – one of the things that you should think about in your food packing is how easily you can rotate your stock. You'll want things that are non-perishable and calorie-dense. Consider energy bars, dried fruit and granola to help keep you fueled. Just remember to rotate the stock of emergency foods every four weeks so you don't have stale foods if the time comes that you need them.
- Warm Gear – sleeping bags, hats, mittens and warm boots are all important considerations for storm-ready car emergency kits. If you think of it, ski suits and things of that nature are typically heavily insulated, so they'll keep you warm in the cold temperatures.
If you're stuck in a snowbank, sometimes a bit of sand or cat litter is all it takes to give your tires traction again. Keep a bag of sand or non-clumping cat litter in your trunk along with a child-sized shovel and some salt. These things will help you combat the ice and snow, and possibly get your car out of a ditch or snowbank without calling for a tow.
With the tips presented here, you can face the winter weather with confidence. Not only will you be more visible and safer on the road, but you can also protect yourself in the event that you are in an accident. Talk to your insurance company, like a State Farm insurance agent, about any possible security discounts you may be eligible for if you can show your advanced planning and safety equipment.
Preparing your car for winter is necessary to ensure you have safe travels in the upcoming months. Take the time to investigate the headlights, windshield wiper blades, brakes and tire tread before winter arrives.