Winter has arrived, and with it comes hazardous road conditions. At this time of year, unpredictable and severe weather can pose major problems, even to the most experienced winter drivers. To stay safe and help keep your auto insurance rates low, it’s important to review safety practices for winter driving. Many drivers make mistakes during cold and slippery weather, and to give yourself the best chance of avoiding accidents, you need to exercise extra caution.
Auto Insurance Calgary: Common Winter Driving Errors
Be more careful every time you get behind the wheel in winter, whether you’re just making a quick trip to the store or are heading into the mountains for a ski weekend. Every time you drive, keep these common winter driving errors in mind and be proactive in avoiding them:
- Following too close. Braking is more difficult when roads are wet and slippery, yet many drivers don’t leave a large enough following distance. Drivers ahead of you may brake suddenly or lose control, and you have to allow yourself enough time to react in order to avoid a potential accident. To check your following distance, choose a stationary landmark such as an overhead bridge or lighting pole and watch for the car ahead of you to reach it. Then, time yourself to see how many seconds later you reach the same landmark. Under normal driving conditions, there should be a gap of one to two seconds; in winter, it’s wiser to leave at least three seconds.
- Driving too fast for road conditions. While the speed limit on a given road may be 80 km/h or 100 km/h, it may be unsafe to drive at that speed. This is particularly true if heavy snow, freezing rain or black ice are part of the day’s weather, or if visibility is reduced due to high winds and blowing snow. A good idea is to take your cue from the drivers around you, and never drive aggressively in snowy or slippery weather.
- Insufficient tire traction. If you don’t have winter tires on your car, you should get them. They offer greatly improved traction, and they can mean the difference between getting in an accident and avoiding one.
- Failing to account for reduced visibility. While slowing down and increasing your following distance are both proven strategies for safer driving when visibility is reduced, it’s also a good idea to invest in high-quality windshield wipers and fog lights. Always make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid in the reservoir, and clear your car of all accumulated snow and ice before you get on the road.
- Tensing up behind the wheel. Winter road accidents can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you’re too tense behind the wheel. Indecision and inaction can lead to accidents just the same as poor decisions and incorrect actions.
If you’re heading out on a longer car trip, be sure to check both the weather forecast and the road conditions. When it comes to winter driving, you don’t want any surprises, and being prepared for the road ahead is one of the best strategies for avoiding accidents.
You should also keep a fully stocked emergency kit in your trunk in case you get stranded – there are a lot of remote areas in Alberta, and you want to be ready for anything given the severity of our winters. Be sure to include the following items in your winter emergency kit:
- Flares and matches or a lighter
- Tire chains
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and batteries
- Jumper cables
- Spare tires, tire jack and wheel wrench
- Blankets, woolen hats, mittens and sleeping bags
- Drinking water
It’s also not a bad idea to keep a spare fully-charged prepaid cell phone in your car’s emergency kit, just in case your primary phone runs out of battery power in a remote area.
Auto Insurance Calgary: The Lane’s Advantage
Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta insurance brokerage, providing both personal and commercial auto insurance at outstanding rates, with value-added customer care and outstanding claims support. If you have any questions or concerns about your current auto insurance in Calgary, or if you would like a fast, free, no-obligation quote, please visit us online or contact us.