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Winter Weather Safe Driving Tips

As your trusty local insurance agents, our focus is on keeping our fellow Connecticut residents safe and protected. We'd like to think that extends beyond your insurance policies. Between the snow storm last week and the frigid temperatures coming up tomorrow, we thought it was a good time to publish our safe driving tips for cold and snowy conditions. After all, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there are nearly half a million car accidents every winter. Let's bring that number down, shall we?

Tips for Driving in the Cold
  • Keep cold weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing and blankets.

  • Check that your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread. If they are getting thin and worn, it's a good idea to replace them ASAP.

How do you know when your tires should be replaced?

First do a visual inspection. The heat and sun of summer can damage your tires, which you can see as cracked, chipping or flaking material. Also, look for bumps, bulges and uneven tread wear; all signs your tire's sidewall structure is about to fail. To check your tire's treads, use the penny test. Place a penny head first into several grooves around your tires. If the tread is touching Lincoln's head, you have enough tread to be safe. If the tread doesn't touch Lincoln's head, it means your tread is shallow and worn and needs to be replaced. Lastly, track the age of your tires. Vehicle manufacturers generally recommend replacing your tires every six years.

  • Going to the gas station more often might seem like an annoyance, but it's important to keep at least half a tank of fuel in your car at all times. This way, if you do end up stranded, you have enough gas to run your car to keep warm and keep the lights on.

  • Avoid using cruise control when the roads are slippery or wet. Cold + wet = icy, and you want to have full control of your vehicle when driving over icy roads.

Click here to see what's in our Car Emergency Kit

Tips for Driving in the Snow
  • Treat your pedals gently: give yourself more time to accelerate and decelerate than usual to maintain traction and avoid skids.

  • Increase your following distance to six seconds so you have extra room should you need to stop.

  • Try to get enough speed going while the road is still flat so that inertia carries you up hills; applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. As you reach the top of the hill, allow the car to reduce speed and proceed downhill slowly.

  • When braking, give yourself extra time and apply slow, steady pressure, whether you have antilock brakes or not.

  • Don’t stop at all if you can avoid it; if you can slow down enough to keep rolling until traffic moves or a light changes, do it.

If you do get stuck in the snow...
  • Stay in your car; it will provide temporary shelter and make it easier for rescuers to locate you. Visibility can also be very poor in severe storms and you can quickly become lost if you venture out on foot to find help.

  • Don’t overexert yourself trying to dig out your vehicle. Take breaks if you become tired and try to stay hydrated.

  • Be as visible as possible; keep your dome light on at night if possible and tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or at the top of a rolled-up window.

  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow, ice and mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into your car while you’re running the engine to keep warm.

  • Stay warm but conserve fuel. Use whatever you have in your car to keep warm and only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. If you’re stranded at night or on a less traveled road, you may have to wait awhile before help arrives.

Worried about your coverage or replacement costs if you do end up in an accident? Give us a call at (860) 785-4854.

The best tip to stay safe: Stay home

Stock the kitchen with plenty of food, grab your coziest, favorite pair of jammies, and bunker down at home until the storm passes and the roads are clear. You don't even have to feel isolated; we've all had plenty of practice keeping in touch virtually, after all!


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