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Safe Driving Tips for Hazardous Weather Conditions

It’s not even officially Winter yet, and a Winter storm watch has been issued for parts of New England from Thursday evening through Friday morning.  Forecasters are projecting the first snowfall of the season with a dusting to one inch predicted for most of the Massachusetts coast, and 1-to-3 inches expected for inland areas and most of Rhode Island and Connecticut.

While the predicted storm is minor by most New Englanders’ standards, a dusting of snow followed by rain creates a slushy mix and/or icy roads and therefore the potential for difficult travel conditions. Drivers need to be cautious navigating the roadways during adverse weather.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “1 in 4 weather-related vehicle crashes involve snow, slush or icy roads.”

Winter weather conditions make it harder for drivers to see, more difficult for them to slow down and harder for them to stop, all factors that can increase the likelihood of an accident.

The best way to avoid an accident during winter weather conditions is to stay off the roads but if you must travel, making sure your car is prepared,  and adjusting your driving to the weather conditions can go a long way in keeping you safe on the roads.

Make sure your vehicle is winter ready:

  • Be sure to have a Winter Survival Kit in your car that includes and ice scaper, telescoping snow brush, sand or ice melt and  snow shovel.
  • have winter tires installed on your car (never mix radial tires with any other type).
  • make sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape and your wiper fluid reservoir is full. You’ll need them to clear the ice and snow from your windshield.
  • Always make sure to have your seat belt fastened during every ride. (Inclement weather or not).
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid your gas line freezing up and so that you will be able to run your car to keep warm, in case you get stranded or stuck.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving on a slippery road.
  • Don’t drive when you’re tired. (the National Highway Safety Administration estimates that 6,000 fatal crashes per year are due to drowsy driving).
  • Always look in the direction and steer in the direction where you want to go.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Monitor the weather, by checking the local news, or signing up for a weather alert to send you updates via text.
  • Make sure your cell phone is properly charged when heading out on the roads during inclement weather.

Drive According to the Weather Conditions

  • Before ever leaving  the driveway or wherever you have parked, take the time to properly clear snow and ice off your vehicle.  Make sure your windshield, mirrors, windows, roof, hood and trunk are all free from snow to allow maximum visibility while driving. This tip may seem like common sense, but we’ve all been behind that one motorist who was in a hurry and didn’t properly clear off their car sending a huge chunk of snow flying off their vehicle onto yours. It isn’t hard to see how these flying mounds of snow could cause an accident on the roadways.
  • Take it Slow. Keep in mind that posted speed limits are meant for clear roads, not slippery roads covered in snow and ice. Increase your following distance and reduce your speed. Observe caution and avoid passing any snow plows, sand trucks or emergency vehicles.
  • Put your headlights on. Even during the daytime, your headlights can help improve your visibility and help other motorists see your car during times of snow, fog, sleet or rain.
  • When accelerating apply the gas pedal slowly in order to gain traction. Also remember that it takes time to slow down or stop on an icy or snow covered road. Begin to decelerate and apply the brake long before any stops you need to make.
  • If possible, stay home during inclement weather. If you don’t have to venture out during times of winter weather, the best way to stay safe is simply to stay off the roads. If you need to work but have the option of working remotely, do so.

Driving during inclement weather is challenging, even for drivers with several years of driving experience. And even if you are an experienced driver, others on the road may not be. Always, keep it slow, wear your seatbelt and limit any distractions (like phone calls) in order to devote your full attention to driving cautiously.

We’ve provided these winter weather driving tips in an effort to help you avoid crashes or accidents while on the road. It’s our hope that you’ll never have to experience a claim, but if you should have an accident, the experts in McSweeney & Ricci’s Claims Department will be with you every step of the way to help you get back to normal life as soon as possible.

Our Claims professionals can be reached by calling 1-781-848-8600 during normal business hours. Outside of normal business hours, you can contact that same phone number and press 1 and our answering service will contact us to assist you.  You can also report a loss, anytime, night or day, through our secure online “Report a Loss” forms.

A full service insurance agency, offering home and auto insurance as well as business and life insurance, McSweeney & Ricci has provided custom tailored insurance protection to clients on the South Shore, throughout all of Massachusetts and beyond for over fifty years.

Sources:
https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/weather_events/snow_ice.htm
https://www.travelers.com/resources/auto/safe-driving/winter-driving-safety-tips
https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving

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