Many of us are going to take to the roads in wintertime. Winter travel has become a part of everyday life for most Americans. Mostly, we are no longer inhibited by many of the poor conditions that develop during winter.
Nonetheless, even though modes of travel have changed, winters haven’t. The inconvenient and dangerous risks for drivers during winter are still there. That’s why even though we might be able to drive, we often have to do so with considerable care and discretion. So, if you are planning to travel as we head deeper into winter, prepare ahead of time to hit the road.
Risks of Driving in Winter Weather
Granted, winters in Florida tend to be mild. This doesn’t mean that Floridians won’t travel to areas where harsher winters threaten. Whether in Florida or anywhere else in the U.S., you need to be aware of how local winters impact your driving area. Both environmental and man-made factors might impact winter travel.
- Seasonal changes might lead to unfavorable driving conditions. Rain, fog, and of course snow and ice, have a tendency to develop frequently in many places. Under such conditions a driver’s ability to operate safely may diminish.
- Changes in the weather might impact roads, including causing wet or frozen pavement. Hazardous roads might diminish a driver’s ability to control their vehicle.
- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentines Day all fall during the winter. Each of these are often social occasions. Even with the threat of hazards, winter tends to be a time when many drivers hit the road. With an increase in drivers, the potential for congestion and accidents often increases. This means the roads may not be as safe as usual.
- Darkness comes earlier during winter. This means most drivers spend longer periods driving in the dark. Nighttime driving might increase on-road dangers because of diminished visibility for drivers.
- Vehicles often face certain exposure risks when driving in winter. Cold temperatures and other weather might cause harm to the vehicle’s internal and external systems.
- Some roadside and transportation services may not operate during the winter. This might mean some drivers won’t be able to access certain assistance on certain roads.
It is easy to see how driving during the winter comes with its fair share of safety risks. However, drivers can do more to take care of themselves on the road.
Preparing for Winter Driving
You might be traveling this winter, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. However, before you go, take the time to get ready. It could help you avoid problems while driving.
- Before any long trips, take your vehicle to the mechanic for a checkup. Your mechanic might catch small problems that might develop into larger issues. They might change the oil, top off your anti-freeze, change the air filters or repair the car’s seals. As cold temperatures may impact the vehicle’s internal systems, having regular maintenance is important.
- Make sure you prepare your tires for long periods of travel. Tires help your vehicle grip the road. So, if you’re going to drive on potentially-dangerous roads, you will need the support of your tires. If your treads or tire pressure are not accurate, they might compromise the integrity of the tires and safety of the vehicle.
- Before traveling, check the weather and road conditions along your intended routes. This can help you better know what to expect. Of course, if conditions are extremely precarious, you might need to forego travel.
- Gather an emergency supplies list to keep in your car. Such items might help you in case you become stranded in bad winter conditions. Include in your emergency kit:
- A hat, gloves and a warm coat. This can help you keep insulated from cold conditions.
- Non-perishable food and a supply of water.
- A remote battery to help you charge your cell phone or other mobile devices.
- First aid supplies
- Jumper cables, a car jack, nuts and bolts and other items that might help you make small repairs to the vehicle.
Have Protection on the Road
One important part of travel safety is to keep your auto insurance active on the road. Winter driving risks may increase the likelihood of having to file a claim. Therefore, you don’t want to drive without the appropriate insurance coverage.
You likely need collision, comprehensive and liability coverage to help you cover injuries and damage that might result from an accident. Furthermore, you might also invest in other coverage like roadside assistance or medical payments. Talk to your insurance agent about the types of coverage that you specifically need. Your vehicle risks will likely mandate specific coverage.
As always, operate your vehicle with extreme care regardless of the winter conditions in your area. The safer you are, the lesser your chances of encountering problems on any roadway during the winter. This lessens your risk of ever having to file a claim on your auto insurance. If you can go without claims, you might be able to save money.