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Five Ways to Prepare for Safe Winter Driving

Kathleen Henderson January 16, 2018
Snow brush clearing snow under a windshield wiper

Have you heard these terms lately in the news: “bomb cyclone,” “winter hurricane” and – an oldie but goodie – “polar vortex.” Well it’s back – winter, cold, ice and snow. These are some of the most dangerous driving conditions of every year.

Are you and your employees prepared for winter driving conditions?

Review of your Company Policies:

We encourage managers to review company policies that relate to how drivers are required to prepare for driving in any adverse conditions.

  • Are drivers aware of potential consequences of driving too fast in the rain/fog/snow/ice? That they could be ticketed (driving too fast for conditions) or injured due to a crash?
  • Are they aware of how to inspect a tire to be sure it is in proper condition for winter driving conditions?
  • Are there any specific instructions you want them to follow regarding snow that reduces visibility so badly that they are not comfortable driving?
  • Do drivers understand the concept of “over-driving” their headlights or driving too fast in winter-weather conditions to react in time to a sudden obstacle or problem in front of their vehicle?
  • Have you explained what a safe following distance would be for their type of vehicle?

Five steps for safe winter driving:

Prepare your vehicle: make sure your car is stocked with a winter driving survival kit, including an ice scraper, a snow shovel, sand or salt, a cell phone and charging cord.

Watch the weather: monitor road/weather conditions. Check local news or Internet traffic/weather sites. Sign up for weather alerts to receive text messages/optional alerts for your area. Do not check your phone while driving.

Driving for winter conditions: take time to clear snow/ice off your car, including windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof, trunk and any cameras or other safety equipment. Drive with headlights on, keep them clean to improve visibility. Use caution when snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic.

Breaking down or getting stuck: if your car is safely out of harm’s way, stay in the car and wait for help. You can run the heater to stay warm for 10 min every hour, but make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the pipe and enables the deadly gas to build up in the car. Open a window slightly to help prevent any buildup.

Remember: driving in winter weather can be challenging, even for experienced drivers. Slowing down, allowing increased time to come to a stop, wearing your seat belt, devoting your full attention to the road and being aware of changing conditions can help you drive more safely. If your travel route takes you into remote areas with limited cell phone coverage, consider informing a third party of your travel plans that include your route and when you plan to arrive. This way, if overdue, first responders will know where to start looking. If you’re unsure whether it is safe to drive, consider waiting until the roads improve.

For more on winter safety check out this resource page from Philadelphia Insurance Companies.

About the Author:

Kathleen HendersonKathleen Henderson is a client manager in the Commercial Property and Casualty Department at Oswald Companies.  She has over 15 years of commercial and personal lines insurance experience specializing in the management of commercial programs for clients ranging from small business to large national corporations.  She is currently working with our Health & Human Service Industry Segment team, where she assists our nonprofit and health related clients with their day to day insurance needs.

Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.

Related Articles:

Risk Updates: OSHA 300A Form Extension and Winter Weather Preparation

Winter Driving Risks: Prepare for Inclement Weather and Difficult Conditions