Driving during the cold winter months can be dangerous if you don’t take certain precautions. In addition to keeping an eye out for ice patches and standing water, you will also need to make some changes to your vehicle to get it ready for extreme temperatures. Here is a look at five ways you can avoid auto accidents once the weather starts to cool off.
Winterize Your Vehicle
No matter how good of a driver you are, your risk of being involved in an accident will skyrocket if you don’t properly winterize your vehicle. As summer draws to an end, you need to check your tire pressure, replace your windshield wipers, and top off all of your fluids. You must also make sure that all of your tires have sufficient tread and no visible signs of damage. This will help ensure that, should there be icy roads, you won’t likely be at fault for a car accident lawsuit.
Leave a Few Minutes Early
Accelerating and decelerating become much more dangerous when there is water or ice on the roads. Leaving a few minutes early and driving under the speed limit will reduce your risk of skidding when you step on the brake or gas pedal. Giving yourself a little extra time is also a good idea if the roads in your town are prone to closures and obstructions.
Never Use Cruise Control
According to the National Safety Commission, drivers should never use cruise control in wet conditions. Your vehicle will most likely swerve if you hit a puddle or patch of ice while the cruise control is on. Even though this feature can save you some money on gas, the benefits don’t outweigh the risks during the wet season.
Increase Your Following Distance
You should always keep a substantial amount of space between your car and the car in front of you during inclement weather. As a general rule, you need to be at least six full seconds behind the car in front of you. To test your distance, you should wait until the car in front of you passes a fixed object and then count until you pass the object yourself. In particularly bad storms, you might need to increase your following distance to 10 or 12 seconds.
Keep Both Hands on the Wheel
Drivers should always have both hands on the wheel, but this habit is especially important during winter storms. There is a very good chance that you will accidentally overcorrect if you try to avoid an obstacle with just one hand. All of your movements must be slow and smooth to prevent spinning out.
In addition to these five tips, you also need to keep a winter emergency kit in your vehicle in case your car breaks down or you get into an accident. Your kit should include a blanket, extra clothes, a windshield scraper, snacks, water, flares, and reflectors.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. You can find Dixie on Facebook.