Winter driving presents a number of challenges for drivers in Massachusetts. Now that snow, ice and freezing temperatures are closing in on us, consider some of these tips to help you stay safe and minimize the potential hazards posed by cold weather, winter storms and icy roads that can lead to an auto accident.
- Know the current road conditions. Call 511 from your cell phone or any of the following from either your cell phone or landline phone. Or goto www.511.org
- Metro Boston: (617) 986-5511
- Central Mass: (508) 499-5511
- Western Mass: (413) 754-5511
- Don’t drive in bad weather if you can avoid it; but if you must drive, then try to be well rested and wait until snow plows and sand trucks have cleared the roads
- Clear snow and ice from all windows and lights – even the hood and roof- before driving
- Drive for the current conditions – slower speeds, slower acceleration
- Use your headlights
- Don’t use cruise control.When driving on wet, snowy or icy roads, cruise control can diminish your full vehicle control in possible slippery conditions
- Remember that four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles don’t stop or steer better on ice; be careful!
- Leave plenty of extra room for stopping
- Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady spots
- If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it’s safe to pass. Remember a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision. Stay back (15 car lengths) until you’re sure it’s safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road
- On multi-lane roadways, snow plows often need to clear the center, throwing snow, ice and slush into nearby lanes. If approaching an oncoming snow plow, slow down and give the plow a little extra room
- Get a vehicle winter maintenance check-up. Your mechanic will likely check your tires, battery, coolant, belts, hoses, radiator, lights, brakes, heater/defroster, wipers, etc
- Frequently check your tire pressure for proper inflation
- It’s a good idea to review your auto insurance policy. Just in case.
- Make it a practice to keep your fuel tank at least half-full. This way, you will prevent gas-line freeze and you won’t likely run out of fuel in an emergency
- Most importantly please remember to SLOW DOWN! Also, seat belts should be worn at all times – it’s the law.
It’s always good to carry some extra supplies in your vehicle including cell phone, ice scrapper, snow brush, shovel, jumper cables, road flares, flashlight, batteries, window-washing fluid, sand bags, salt or kitty litter, gloves, boots, blanket, snacks, water and a first aid kit. Click here for a “What to carry in your car” reminder. And remember to practice these safe winter driving tips outlined by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. You’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re prepared for an emergency.
The key to safe winter driving is to plan ahead, know your vehicle and adapt to the weather and road conditions.
Take care, Be aware and Drive Safely!