Avoiding a Wreck: Top 10 ways to stay safe behind the wheel


Dangerous road conditions can occur any time of year, but winter is prime time for difficult driving in many Northern climates. Be prepared for whatever comes your way on the road by following these safe-driving suggestions:

  1. Maintain your vehicle: Make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape by prioritizing basic maintenance, putting on snow tires or chains, replacing windshield wiper blades, and repairing cracked windshields. Check your battery, heating and cooling systems, and fluids. If you only have front wheel drive, sandbags are an inexpensive way to provide additional stability on icy roads. Supply-wise, be sure to carry an ice scraper, water, a spare tire and other necessities that will keep you safe should you break down in sub-zero weather.
  2. Plan ahead: If you plan to cut loose at a party, plan to have a designated driver. If you don't have a sober friend you can count on, find out if your city has a program that provides rides to revelers who don't want to get behind the wheel.
  3. Buckle up: In the event of an accident, whether you are wearing a seatbelt may mean the difference between life and death. Make wearing a seatbelt non-negotiable for yourself and your passengers.
  4. Drive conservatively: In the winter months it's especially important to avoid getting distracted while driving. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, go slowly, and keep a safe distance from other vehicles. Don't text or do anything else while driving, and keep the radio level to a minimum.
  5. Plan ahead: It's easy these days to get detailed, real-time information on any major roadway. Check road conditions before you go, and be willing to change your travel plans if necessary.
  6. Stay alert: Resist the temptation to go on autopilot and only pay attention to the car in front of you. Instead, continuously scan your surroundings so you can respond more quickly and effectively to problems on the road. Similarly, never drive when you're overtired, which has been shown to be as dangerous as drunk driving in many cases.
  7. Maximize visibility: Before you drive, clear all ice and snow from your vehicle and be sure there is nothing impeding your ability to see in all directions. Adjust your mirrors properly, and always check your blind spots while driving.
  8. Avoid hazards: Even if you're a pro at driving in difficult conditions, other drivers may put you in harm's way. Minimize the risk of an accident by steering clear of erratic drivers and sticking to the slow lane.
  9. Drive by daylight: If at all possible, restrict your driving to the daylight hours, especially if you are travelling long distances.
  10. Understand your vehicle: Some vehicles are more adept than others of handling certain driving conditions. Know what your vehicle is and isn't capable of, and drive appropriately.

Practice these tips to decrease the risk of accident or injury this winter, and make it a safe season for both you and your fellow travelers.

For any auto insurance questions, call or contact Executive Insurance & Financial Services today.

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