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Winter and Disaster Prep

3 Essential Areas to Prepare for Winter

Each year there are over 100,000 crashes occurring on snowy, slushy or icy roads. Dangerous myths, portrayed as facts, about how to drive in the coming season’s road conditions may have led to misinformed drivers. Let’s take a closer look at these myths and reveal the truth behind winter driving so you can make sure you’re safe on the road.

Myth #1: In bad weather, poor road conditions can cause crashes

We see the headlines every winter season: “Winter Storm Blamed for Six Crashes” or “Local Driver’s Car Lost Control on Snow-Covered Road.” But this blame is misplaced. Snow cannot actually cause a motor vehicle crash — it’s only frozen water. However, a driver choosing to drive too fast in snow or ice can certainly cause a collision. About 9 out of 10 crashes involve some human error, and mistakes such as driving too fast and following too close are very common in winter driving conditions.

Myth #2: When in a skid, drivers should “steer into the skid”

It’s been taught to drivers for years. However, this advice presumes a driver knows which direction the car is sliding. This is actually very difficult for a driver to identify, especially in time to take effective, corrective action. Plus, it doesn’t take into account what a driver should do with regards to accelerating and braking. AAA’s advice is simple: “Continue to look and steer where you want to go.” This aligns with the reality that if a driver’s eyes remain focused on the roadway ahead, rather than on the nearby telephone pole or ditch, it’s much more likely that their hands and feet will automatically take the actions that will keep them on the road.  Keep your eyes where you want to go.

Myth #3: You’re good to go after you scrape some of the snow off your windshield

A key tenet of driving is that you have to see something to be able to avoid hitting it. That means you need to have excellent visibility in order to achieve 100 percent situational awareness. But, if some of your side windows are still covered with snow, you can only see part of the picture — and that’s not nearly enough. Before heading out, clear any snow off of all the glass and bodywork, and turn on your headlights. See and be seen.

Myth #4: Your vehicle’s safety technologies will save you in winter weather

There’s almost no end to the advanced driver assistance technologies that can be had in today’s vehicles. However, they are no substitute for an engaged and attentive driver. Drivers should never rely on these technologies when driving in winter conditions. The performance of many safety systems can be reduced in winter if cameras and other sensors become covered with dirt, slush, snow and ice. Even when operating properly, advanced assistance systems can’t defy the laws of physics. If you enter a turn too fast when the road is slick, not even anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control will keep your car on the road. Bottom line: even if your car has safety technology, it’s better to drive as if it doesn’t.

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