Car tires on winter road covered with snow

Winter Driving Safety Tips — How to Stay Safe in Dangerous Conditions

The winter season is a complicated time for drivers. The snow and ice make it more difficult to drive and the risk of an accident increases due to cars sliding all over the roads. By taking measures to improve your safety on the road, you reduce the risk of accidents and ensure that you are prepared for the difficult weather conditions you can expect during the winter months. Here are some winter driving safety tips to help you stay safe even when the conditions get dangerous!


Get Your Car Serviced

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, you want to check your car before the season of bad weather begins. Checking your car tires, assessing any leaks or problems, and getting a winter tune-up are all good initiatives to get your car ready for harsh winter weather.


Open the Garage Before Warming Your Car

Do not warm up your car in an enclosed space. If you want to warm your car up before getting into the vehicle, then open the garage door before you turn on your car. Warming up a vehicle in an enclosed space may increase the risk of poisoning due to the exhaust fumes.


Get Rest Before Driving

While it’s never a good idea to drive when you’re tired, this is especially true in bad weather conditions. Do not drive your vehicle if you are exhausted or fatigued. The risks associated with driving while fatigued or tired increase during bad weather conditions. Alternatively, consider a taxi service or ask for a ride from a co-worker or friend.

Understand Your Brakes

Get used to using your brakes and learn how to avoid locking up your brakes during ice and snow. Follow the basic rule of tapping your brakes rather than slamming on them. While your car may have anti-lock brake features, you do not want to rely on this system when driving on icy roads. The icy conditions may limit the effectiveness of the assistance system, so make sure you practice gently tapping your brakes before icy weather conditions roll in. The practice helps you get a feel for your brakes and understand how your car will handle itself in a variety of weather.


Keep Some Distance Between Other Vehicles

Do not get close to other vehicles during poor weather. Slow down and allow plenty of space between you and other cars. Never tailgate other vehicles, since it may result in an accident if the other car stops suddenly or you hit ice and cannot stop your vehicle. Expect the ice and snow to slow down the speed of your stop and plan ahead. A recommended distance of four car lengths is known to reduce the risk of accidents.


car ride in winter

Drive Slowly

Slow down and take your time. Driving slowly will help your tires maintain better traction on the road. It also helps you stay in control of your vehicle and limits the amount of sliding or slipping on the road.


Avoid Cruise Control

If you are planning a long trip or you use cruise control on the highway during your commute, then adjust to driving without cruise control in advance of the winter weather. Cruise control automatically accelerates and brakes to keep your car going at the same speed. This may result in skidding or accidents due to ice on the roads. Opt for manual control instead to limit the risks of an accident.


Do Not Use the Parking Brake

Avoid the parking brake when it is snowing, raining or icy. The brake is not as effective in those weather conditions and it may cause your car to slide down the road. If you have concerns about a hill or incline, then opt for a different parking space.


Keep Useful Items in Your Car

Prep your car with winter tools that will help you during days of heavy snow. A shovel, ice scraper and snow removal tool are all affordable and helpful tools for winter months. Jumper cables, a flashlight, and emergency lights or flares are additional tools that are useful to have in case of car troubles. Keeping sand or cat litter in the car will also help if you are stuck and need extra traction to get moving. For a long trip, it is wise to bring extra food, water and blankets to ensure your safety if you get stuck and need to wait for help.


Staying Safe Doesn’t Happen by Accident

In winter conditions, you need to understand the risks and take measures to stay safe. By preparing in advance and taking steps to avoid potential risks, you will be set to conquer the winter months with ease. At Elephant, we like to reward our customers for being safe and making safe choices. We have a whole range of discounts, not just for having a clean driving record, but even just for having common safety features on your car like a backup camera or Bluetooth!

Ready to see how much you can save just for being safe?

This article is intended for informational purposes only. It does not replace or modify the information contained in your insurance policy.