The snow and ice that blankets nearly 70% of the nation’s roadways during the winter months each year presents drivers with challenges that can result in vehicle crashes if they are not prepared. The winter weather crash statistics provided by the Federal Highway Administration indicate that over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement annually.
Preparing yourself and your vehicle by following these ten safety tips and adapting to winter weather conditions will help ensure you and your loved ones will arrive at your destination safely.
Ten Tips for Winter Driving Safety
- Make sure your vehicle is winter ready! A quick checkup to ensure your wiper blades, tires, and battery are in good condition should be completed before the snow arrives.
- Preparing a winter driving kit for each of your vehicles can ensure your safety in the event you become stranded for a period of time. Consider placing the following items in your vehicle during the winter months: snow/ice scraper, gloves, blanket, small snow shovel, flashlight, traction mats or sand, and booster cables.
- Drive slowly on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, and turning all require additional time to maneuver safely. Allow yourself extra travel time if you must travel in wintery conditions.
- Increase following distances from the typical three to four seconds to eight to ten seconds. This increase provides a larger margin of safety if you have to stop suddenly.
- Check the forecast and skip the travel if you absolutely don’t have to travel in wintery conditions. Remember that even if you drive well in the snow, not everyone else does.
- Remove snow and ice from the hood, roof, exterior mirrors, hood and roof before traveling to ensure proper visibility. Starting your vehicle a few minutes before you turn on the defroster will prevent the windshield from fogging and reducing visibility.
- Drive in the cleanest lane. If roads are snow covered its best to travel in the lane that has been cleared most recently. Avoid switching lanes on roads that have heavy snow cover to prevent loss of control when driving through the snow that builds up between the lanes.
- Approach hills with caution if they are covered by snow or ice. If approaching a hill make sure to leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one immediately in front of you so you do not have to slow down or stop while on the hill. If you are heading down an icy or snow covered hill, drive as slowly as possible and apply the brakes gently and only when necessary.
- Forget the cruise control. Cruise control should not be used when traveling on snow covered or icy roads. It may cause the tires to break traction when the vehicle attempts to accelerate.
- Be aware of areas that tend to be slipperier than others. Ice forms quicker on overpasses, bridges, and any spots that are shaded. Be alert to the potential for icy conditions in these areas and look for the shiny reflection of the ice on roadways.
Your Oswald Loss Control Team is here to help with any questions you may have!
About Oswald’s Loss Control Team:
Oswald’s Risk Consulting services are designed to reduce your exposure to liability and loss, while also lessening the frequency and severity of losses. Our dedicated specialists are highly experienced and seasoned professionals who work closely with you to develop and maintain successful safety and risk management loss prevention.
Adam Thomas, ARM, AINS, CXLT
Senior Casualty Loss Control Consultant
This post was originally published in January 2019; updated January 2021.
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.