5 tips for staying safe on the road in winter

Statistics show that about half a million auto accidents occur in ice, snow and general bad weather every year in the U.S. When winter weather arrives in Maryland, it is sometimes impossible to avoid driving. Here are steps you can take to minimize your risk of accidents and what to do if you have one.

Tips to drive safely in ice and snow

Before you leave, set the heater on defrost to melt the snow and ice and give you a clear view all around. Pack emergency winter gear, such as blankets, flashlights, medication and scrapers, in case you get stuck.

Decrease your driving speed, especially when behind large vehicles and trucks, and increase the distance in front to 5-10 seconds. Ensure that your tires have been inflated and change to winter tires, which are designed for snow, if possible.

An important tip for driver safety in ice and snow is trying to avoid acceleration going uphill. Before you drive up the hill, apply some inertia to keep tires from spinning and decrease your speed on the crest. Driving downhill commonly depends on if you have ABS, but start slowly, applying steady pressure to the brakes.

Tips for if you get stuck

If you get stuck, do not accelerate the gas, which may cause damage to the tires from constant spinning. Turn the engine off and keep the heater on to stay warm, and keep cold air from the floor with newspapers or mats.

Ensure that rescuers and emergency crew can find you by tying a colored strip to the antenna or flashing emergency lights. Don’t walk in the snow, but try to dig as much snow away from the tires as possible. If you have been in a car accident, check yourself and others for injury, and call 911 or have someone else call.

If another party caused the accident, you may seek compensation. Don’t delay getting checked for injury regardless of how you feel. You need proof of the injury, and delaying treatment can reduce compensation.

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