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Safe winter driving

Winter is here…and with it comes the hazardous driving conditions associated with cold weather, sleet, snow and icy roads.

In addition to the obvious dangers of driving on snow and ice, winter driving makes it more difficult to see danger before you can avoid it. Early darkness hides danger during the crowded rush hours. Bad weather blinds you with sleet, fog or snow. Roads with icy ruts, potholes, and snow piles at corners are distracting traps. Headlight glare is worse through the glint of a spattered windshield, and slush covered headlights decrease your ability to see.

Safe winter driving requires certain adjustments of our normal driving habits and the addition of special skills. Extra seconds taken beforehand may well mean extra seconds gained in stopping or maneuvering time.

Things you can do to prevent accidents

Before getting on the road

Prepare for driving — In addition to normal maintenance, check and make sure that your tires, battery, exhaust system, wiper blades (replace worn windshield wiper blades to ensure efficient removal of road salt film), brakes and steering are in top condition.

Brush off — Don't be a peephole driver. Brush snow and ice completely off front, back and side glass. Use the scraper end of the brush to clear off ice and crusty snow. Brush off the hood and top too, so snow won't keep blowing back on the windshield and rear window. See that all headlights are cleaned off as well. It's not enough that you see — others must be able to see you.

Warm up your vehicle — Have you ever started out on a winter day, turned on the heater when the motor is warm after a mile or so and had the glass instantly fog on the inside so you can't see? This can be terrifying in heavy traffic. Start your vehicle five to ten minutes before you plan to drive it (racing the engine does not help to warm up the vehicle and may damage the brittle, unlubricated engine parts). Turn on your defroster immediately. This will warm the windshield gradually and reduce the danger of sudden fogging of the glass. Be sure the inside air is warm enough to prevent condensation forming on the glass.

Wash off — In freezing weather, use a strong windshield washer solution. A weak solution can freeze on the windshield and will instantly obstruct your vision.

On the road

Light up — Be seen. Turn on your low beams at dusk, in rain or snow, or in gloomy weather. Never drive with only parking lights. Some state laws prohibit driving with parking lights. All your lights should be working.

Starting on ice and snow — Use a steady, light touch on the gas pedal. If your wheels should start to spin, ease off on the gas. When stuck on ice, use sand or a metal traction mat and that same "light touch" on the gas pedal.

Steering on slippery pavement — Be ready to adjust your speed and give attention to adverse conditions. Keep both hands on the wheel and make your turns as smooth and gradual as possible. Remember, you can't maneuver on snow and ice as you can on dry pavement. Under these conditions it's best to slow down, increase your following distance, and avoid lane changing.

Stopping on ice and snow — Pump your brakes, alternating slowing and rolling, for the most efficient braking on slick surfaces. NEVER LOCK THE WHEELS. Once the front wheels are locked you lose control of your vehicle and you may go into a skid. You can't steer if the front wheels are not rolling. As defensive drivers, slow down and brake before approaching an intersection. Any location that requires the stopping and starting of vehicles is likely to be very icy.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you. The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC FEB 2019 11-389
171-1127 (1/19)