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Tips on avoiding a winter car accident

As you know, winters in Pennsylvania can be brutal. Not only do drivers have to contend with sleet and snow, but we have periodic ice storms that can turn a stretch of highway into ice skating rinks. You may not be able to avoid an accident caused by another driver, but you can make choices behind the wheel that may reduce your chances of getting into a crash this winter.

December through February are the most dangerous months of the year for driving in states that experience snow and ice. According to Esurance, about 22 percent of all vehicle collisions are caused by adverse weather conditions. The most dangerous situation you might encounter this season is sliding on ice, especially black ice. It can be helpful to recognize what black ice looks like – this smooth sheet of extremely slick ice is often mistaken for a patch of shadow at night or harmless wet pavement. Use extreme caution if you suspect you are driving near black ice. Other ways to increase your safety on the road this winter include the following:

  • Slow down when driving conditions are bad.
  • Do not slam on your brakes when there is water, snow or ice on the road.
  • Give other vehicles plenty of room, and increase your stopping distance.
  • Leave a few minutes early so you do not feel rushed in inclement weather.
  • Drive with caution in shady areas, on bridges or beneath overpasses, especially at night, as these spots may quickly develop ice.

Additionally, many people develop a false sense of confidence in their all-weather tires. All-season tires are good for providing a little extra traction on wet surfaces, but they do not give much extra protection against sliding on ice. If you anticipate regularly driving on slippery roads this winter, you might want to invest in snow tires or studded tires, or make sure you can put on chains in stormy weather.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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