Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tips for Safe Winter Driving

There's nothing scarier than being in a car that is sliding across the road... your hands are gripping the wheel but nothing you do alters your direction... your whole body is rigid with panic and you're just praying that you don't hit anything... at least anything important.
When you finally "CRUNCH" into the snowbank on the side of the road, you exhale and are shaking with relief that you probably escaped with just a dented fender.

Living in the Northeast, I have had a few of those harrowing moments when my car slid on a patch of "Black Ice" - that impossible to see slippery road surface so common in the winter. Fortunately, I have not ever hit another car in the winter, but I have nearly come out of my skin in sheer panic as my car slid of its own accord around the road!

Here's some ways to be safe this winter as you're driving (especially with those little ones in the car!):

Back off - there is NO need to follow cars too closely in ANY weather - it's an accident waiting to happen. But in inclement weather, it's even MORE important to leave several car lengths between you and the next car.

Go Slow - definitely drive under the speed limit if it's raining/snowing or the weather has dropped recently (which creates those black ice conditions even if there is no falling precipitation).

Hands & Feet Off - well, not totally, but if you do find yourself slipping on ice, fight the urge to steer the car the other way and immediately take your foot off the gas! It is better to just loosely hold the wheel and let the car come out of the slide on its own as the car naturally slows from lack of fuel. If you turn the wheel to correct the slide, what happens is you STILL slide, but now your wheels are turned, then when the slide is over, your car will ABRUPTLY turn in the direction of the wheels. This could create yet another slide, or worse, tip your car over.

Consider waiting - do you absolutely NEED to go run that errand? Can you skip that gym session? Traveling in poor conditions can be very dangerous, so definitely consider rearranging your schedule to minimize driving time. Honestly, it's not worth a life-threatening accident.

Gear Up - It's wise to have good wipers, nicely treaded tires (or snow tires) and a well-tuned car before winter. Also, consider keeping a bag of sand and a shovel in the car. And I'd recommend throwing an old pair of jeans, boots, socks, and gloves in a bag. I remember once my friends and I ran out of gas on a lonely road...on a bitter winter night. We were all dolled up on a double date and hardly equipped to be trekking up the road to a gas station. It all worked out but it would've been better if there had been a few warm items in the car to put on!

Staying safe this winter can be as easy as being prepared and having a little foresight! Also, checking your local weather! Stay warm and safe on the roads this winter all you mamas! (And papas!).

And if you're looking for more driving tips, check out some of the tips and tricks on the Esurance Blog, like mom-inspired driving tips, yoga for drivers, more winter driving tips and other great ways to help you drive safely this year!

Also, be sure to "Like" Esurance on Facebook where you'll find even more driver resources!

DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Esurance blogging program for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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