As winter approaches with the season's first frost, a solid plan of action to prepare for storms and adverse road conditions is imperative. Knowing what type of tools to keep in your car and adhering to winter driving tips can help you avoid any seasonal discomfort and, in worst cases, winter wrecks. Over 1,259,000 weather-related motor vehicle accidents occur, annually, as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). On average, these crashes kill nearly 5,900 people per year, making up 16% of all vehicular deaths across the nation.
Annual Averages from DOT on Winter-Related Accidents
|Snow/Sleet||Icy Pavement||Slushy Pavement/Snow|
|210,341 crashes||151,944 crashes||174,446 crashes|
|55,942 persons injured||38,770 persons injured||41,597 persons injured|
|739 persons killed||559 persons killed||538 persons killed|
Although fatal wrecks may be the worst thing to watch out for this winter, dings and dents to the body of your car from hail as well as small annoyances such as being late to work due to a frosty windshield or not having an attached garage to make it to your vehicle, safely, can create additional chilly challenges.
Winter Driving Tips
Whether safe-guarding is needed for black ice on slick streets, hail hurdling toward your windshield or drastically decreased visibility on the roads, we recommend taking proper precautions this winter to lower your chances of a collision. Outlined below are general road safety tips that will help you dodge danger during the upcoming season.
- Always remember to have everyone in the vehicle buckle up.
- Get the proper amount of rest to reduce winter weather driving risks.
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated before driving anywhere and never mix radial tires with other tire types.
- Weatherize your vehicle with the proper snow tires, freeze-resistant wiper fluid, new windshield wiper blades, if needed, as well as coolant with the correct mixture of antifreeze/water to prevent fluid from freezing in your radiator is key to keeping you out of harm's way.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
- Try not to use your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- Avoid the use of cruise control when driving on slippery surfaces (wet, black ice).
Another helpful driving safety tip is to keep a winter driving kit in your vehicle with the tools and resources listed below.
- Ice scraper
- Charged cell phone or a backup battery
- Warning flares
- Snow shovel (small/medium size)
- Cloth/Paper towels and window-washing solvent to ensure visibility through the windshield, back glass, and side windows
- Water bottles and a small snack
Road Safety Tips from the American Automobile Association (AAA) for Driving in the Snow
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don't try to get moving in a hurry. Also, take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
- The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Stay home. If you really don't have to go out, don't. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. If you don't have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
Road Safety Tips for Driving in Hail Storms
- Pull over to a safe place where hail will have less chance of causing damage to your windshield or other glass on the vehicle, such as under an overpass. Remain inside the vehicle.
- Don't try to drive through a hail storm as driving compounds the impact of hail hitting your vehicle.
- Avoid any ditches on the side of the road from which water may rise.
- Windshields are reinforced to withstand the pelting of the hail, whereas back glass and side windows are more likely to crack or shatter. Hence, keep your car angled so the hail hits the front of the vehicle.
Glass America understands that sometimes you will have to be on the road during these weather conditions and accidents happen but we caution all of our customers to be extra careful as conditions worsen this winter. These safe driving tips could save a life, so be sure you weatherize your vehicle properly and keep a winter driving kit in your car at all times. Should your car need a windshield or other auto glass repaired or replaced, do not hesitate to call us. Our mobile windshield repair and replacement service will come to you at no extra charge and we will gladly work with your insurance company to make the process as smooth as possible for you.