Another Michigan winter has arrived, and it’s time to brush up on your winter driving skills. Driving safely in winter not only protects you but also other drivers on the road. Here is a short quiz. The answers are at the end of the article.
- When driving in winter conditions, remain at least _____ car lengths behind snowplows.
- True or False? Snowplow drivers have good visibility with few blind spots.
- Passing a snow plow is dangerous because:
A. The snowplow creates a ridge of snow to its side that can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
B. The plow kicks up a snow cloud that causes total white out conditions
C. It may be difficult to see the blade of the plow which can extend several feet ahead of the truck and up to 30 inches beyond the truck’s width.
D. All of the above.
- When driving in snow you should avoid using your_____:
A. High beam headlights
B. Low beam headlights
C. Emergency flashers
D. Rear window defroster<
- True or False? In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you can usually feel a loss of traction or the beginning of a skid. With a front-wheel vehicle, there may be no warning.
- If you are in an accident, you should______:
A. Turn on your emergency flashers
B. Call the police
C. Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible
D. All of the above.
Is your car ready?
Check your tires, battery, heater, and antifreeze level. Install new wiper blades and keep your washer reservoir full. Keep the fuel tank near full to prevent condensation which may lead to a frozen fuel line.
Check your emergency kit
Make sure your kit includes warm clothing, boots, a stocking cap, gloves or mittens, a flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, a shovel, sand or kitty litter, blankets, first aid supplies, and non-perishable, nutritious snacks. Small candles and matches – a lit candle can provide warmth and with the proper precautions is much safer than letting the engine run.
Share your plans
Let people know where you are going, what route you will be taking, and when you plan to arrive. Stay alert and know exactly where you are at all times in the event you need to call for help. Watch for roads signs and landmarks. Your cell phone will do you little good if you don’t know where you are.
Yikes, it’s slippery!
Ice can form on road surfaces any time the air temperature drops below 40 degrees, especially if it’s windy. Bridges and overpasses can be the first to freeze. Watch for low or shaded areas as well as roadways where melting snow has had an opportunity to freeze. Black ice can be extremely dangerous causing you to lose control when you least expect it. Intersections can be another danger area – be sure to leave at least one car length in front of you when stopped at the intersection and be aware of what is happening behind you.
Blowing snow and whiteout conditions
Finding yourself in a complete whiteout can be terrifying. Don’t panic; remain calm, alert and patient. Slow down gradually if you’re uncomfortable with the speed you’re traveling. Make sure your lights are on including your low beam headlights and fog lights. Avoid passing, changing lanes or crossing traffic. Don’t stop on the traveled portion of the road – you could be the first vehicle in a chain-reaction collision. Keep your windows and mirrors clean. Try to get off the road and into a safe parking area.
Let’s see how you did on the quiz:
- D – 8 car lengths. Snowplows drive slower than the posted speed limit. Snow from the snowplow can spray out reducing visibility
- False – Never assume the snowplow driver sees you. Wing blades can obscure side vision, and drivers cannot see out the back window.
- D – All reasons to avoid passing a snowplow.
- A – using your high beam headlights can magnify the visual intensity of the falling snow.
- True – Although front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles usually handle better in snow and ice, skids can still occur unexpectedly.
- D – If you are in an accident, it is important that you complete them all.
Along with getting your car ready for winter, be sure your automobile insurance is ready for winter by reviewing your policy with your insurance agent. You don’t want to find out after an accident that you didn’t have the coverage you thought you did. So let’s talk!
About the Author
Vicki Brossman has been with Kemner-Iott Agency of Cass County for 18 years where she specializes in asset protection and risk management for our persona lines customers. Vicki has been involved in farming her entire life being raised on a farm in the Marcellus area. For the last 42 years, Vicki and her husband have been farming in the Vandalia/Cassopolis area.
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