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Winter Driving Safety Tips

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Take a few minutes to cover a few basics

  • Get an earlier-than-usual start and plan for the trip to take longer than normal.
  • Clear your entire vehicle of snow. Snow left on the roof and hood can easily end up on the windshield or rear window, obstructing your view.
  • Clear ice off all windows and side mirrors. Clearing just a peephole will get you out of the driveway faster, but will also obstruct your line of vision.
  • Remove snow from your shoes before you get in the car to avoid fogging up the windows and creating slippery gas and brake pedals.
  • Always use your seatbelt and insist any passengers do so as well.

On the Road

  • Slow down. Posted speed limits are meant for ideal (i.e., dry) conditions; adjust your speed down during slick weather. This is even true for four-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Don't talk on your cell phone while driving.
  • Leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you in case of sudden stops, black ice, etc. If the vehicle behind is following too closely, change lanes or try slowing down so they will pass you.
  • Try not to make sudden stops or direction changes, such as going across three lanes of traffic to make that last minute exit.
  • Keep your headlights on.
  • Pay attention to other drivers and anticipate what they may do. Watch for cars on side streets that are trying to pull out into traffic.
  • Slow down while approaching intersections.
  • Keep clear of snowplows, big rigs, and other large vehicles which can suddenly blind you with snow spray. Never pass a snowplow on the right.
  • Do not use cruise control in cold or wet weather. Tapping on your brakes to disengage can cause you to slip and slide.
  • Be alert for ice, especially on bridges and in shaded areas.
  • During especially hazardous and treacherous conditions, don't try to drive out of the storm; seek shelter until the worst passes.

Braking and Skidding

  • At the first sign of brake lights, start slowing down. Try to avoid slamming on the brakes.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump them. Keep constant, firm pressure on the brake pedal until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.
  • If you start to skid, take your foot off the pedal and steer in the direction you want to the vehicle to go. Do not hit the brakes or accelerate.

Chains

  • If highway signs say chains are required, you must either stop and put them on or turn back.
  • Pull completely out of traffic to put on and take off chains. Stopping in a traffic lane not only blocks traffic, it greatly endangers your physical safety.

What to Do if Stranded

  • If your vehicle breaks down, or is stalled or stranded, don't panic.
  • Turn on the emergency flashers or set up flares.
  • If you're stuck, try straightening the wheels and accelerating slowly. Don't let the tires spin endlessly; it only creates a mess (consult your owner's manual for the best way to get the vehicle unstuck).
  • Turn the car on occasionally to keep warm. If it is snowing, check the tailpipe every so often to ensure it is not covered with snow. You may also want to crack a window slightly to avoid potential carbon monoxide buildup.
  • Move around once in a while to keep your circulation up.
  • If it is snowing or raining, stay with your vehicle unless help is within 100 yards.

Know the Conditions
Winter weather can change fast and unexpectedly. For the latest updates on road conditions visit a commuter link website where up-to-the-minute conditions can be seen and decisions on the safest route can be made.

Other Tips

  • Keep an extra car key in your wallet or pocket. If you accidentally lock yourself out, you won't be stranded in the cold.
  • Tell someone your planned route and estimated arrival time in case something happens, especially on longer trips.

Additional Resources
WCF Insurance Safety Department
385.351.8103

Ask a Safety Consultant

https://www.osha.gov
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/

NOTICE: This guide may make reference to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations; however the guide is not legal advice as to compliance with OSHA or other safety laws, codes, or regulations. Compliance with OSHA and other safety laws codes or regulations, and maintaining a safe work environment for your employees remains your responsibility. WCF Insurance does not undertake to perform the duty of any person to provide for the health or safety of your employees. WCF Insurance does not warrant that your workplace is safe or healthful, or that it complies with any laws, regulations, codes, or standards.

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