winter driving safety tips

Tips & Tricks For Driving in the Snow

While the snow looks beautiful coming down, it makes driving way more difficult and increases your chances of an accident significantly.  While it’s best to avoid driving in bad weather as much as possible, it’s often unavoidable- especially in New England. If you must hit the road during a snowy winter wonderland, keep these tips and tricks in mind to stay as safe as possible.

1. Drive Slow– This must be the most obvious thing to state when it comes to driving in the snow, but it has to be said. Really though, actually drive slower and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. The snow makes the roads slippery and reduces visibility so you’ll need to give yourself plenty of more time to react to changing conditions. This advice is heavily aimed at those who drive SUVs, 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive cars. While those type of cars do offer some more traction and control, it does not make you invincible or your car a super SUV. The roads are still significantly less safe and require slow driving.

2. Give Yourself Distance– Most people follow the 2 (or 3) second rule of thumb to calculate the minimum distance they should keep behind from the car in front so that there is adequate time to stop. In the snow, you want to at the very least double this distance. Ideally, triple it. If you do slide or skid on the snow, the farther away you are from other vehicles the safer you’ll be.

3. Lights– ALWAYS have your lights on when driving in the snow. With the reduced visibility, you’ll want to make your surroundings as visible as possible. On the side, you’ll want other drivers to be able to see you as well.

4. NEVER Use Cruise Control- You’ll need extra vigilance and extra control when it comes to driving in the snow. Not only do you need to adjust your speed more frequently when driving in the snow, you’ll also need much more control over steering, even if you’re driving on a straight road. Never use cruise control when driving in the snow. Ever.

5. Avoid Slamming on the Break– If your tires start to skid, most people’s first instinct is to panic and slam on the break- don’t do this. Instead ease off the accelerator and try to steer the car out of potential collisions. Slamming on the breaks once your tires have already locked up and lost traction won’t help. Skidding out can be frightening, but try to stay as calm as possible in order to safely slow down and come to a stop.

6. Beware of Bridges– Bridges are the first to freeze and ice over in cold weather and snow. Unlike roads which lose their temperature on their surface, bridges they are exposed the wind and cold from every angle which promotes the perfect environment for black ice. Even if the roads seem okay in mild snow, use extra caution when you get to a bridge.

7. Clean Your Car– Don’t slack off when it comes to cleaning your car. Even if you’re just driving a short distance, that snow of your roof is a hazard. It can fall in front and obstruct your vision, or it can fly off on to the car behind you which is seriously dangerous. Also, always keep cleaning essentials in your car all winter long such a scraper and shovel and make sure your car has enough windshield wiper fluid for the season.

8. Keep Kitty Litter!– This neat little trick can be a life safer! Getting stuck in the snow is the worst, and the more you try to accelerate out of it, the more you dig yourself deeper. Adding kitty litter behind your tire will provide the traction the tire needs for you to drive your way out. Sand or salt also works well. Keep a bag of it in your trunk of your car if possible.

9. Emergency Kit– While emergency kits are important all year round, they are extra crucial in the winter months. Click here to see what essentials you should have in yours this winter!



Thanksgiving Travel Tips

traffic jam

As Thanksgiving approaches, friends and families are finalizing their travel plans for the big day.  Driving during the holidays is hectic, crowded, and also dangerous because there are so many additional cars on the road.  To help combat the craziness, we’ve come up with some tips to make your journey as safe, and stress-free as possible.

Avoid Peak Travel Times – The busiest travel days for the Thanksgiving holiday are Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.  If you want to avoid traffic, we suggest you leave as early as possible.  If you have to work or have other obligations that will keep you from hitting the road early, we suggest waiting until at least 8 PM.  Traveling on Thanksgiving day will not be as hectic traffic wise, and if you’re driving on Thanksgiving night you’re in luck!  State service plazas will be giving out FREE coffee from 10 PM that night until 5 AM on Friday morning.

Factor The Weather Into Your Trip – Weather can have a major impact on the traffic patterns and may require you to take extra precautions on your journey.  As New Englanders we’re used to crazy weather, but we may have a huge storm headed our way just in time to make holiday travel even more hectic than it usually is.  High speed winds and precipitation are expected so we can’t stress enough how important it is to leave as early as possible.  It’s also important to remember basic safety tips for driving in inclement weather, if you need a reminder check out our blog on Winter Driving Safety Tips.

Avoid Major Highways – While this might be the most direct route to your destination, major highways in Massachusetts are going to be jam packed with traffic over the holiday weekend.  Not only will there be the typical holiday traffic, but it will be made that much worse due to the inclement weather that is heading our way.  Map our alternative routes that follow back roads, not only will you avoid the traffic on the highway, you’ll also get to take in some scenic views!  If you can’t avoid highway travel and happen to be passing through Exit 19 at the Allston/Brighton interchange from 3 – 4 PM on Wednesday, your toll will be free thanks to our friends at Plymouth Rock Assurance!

Be Prepared – On long journeys, it’s important to be prepared for anything.  That means checking out all aspects of you car before you hit the road, including tire pressure, fluid levels, and making sure you have a full tank of gas.  It’s also a good idea to carry an emergency kit in your car at all times.  This should include a flashlight, batteries, blanket, jumper cables, a first aid kit, warning devices (such as flares or reflective triangles) and extra food and water.  You may also want to break out that ice scraper since there may be some snow and ice heading our way!  If you have young children, you may also want to be prepared with entertainment for a long car ride so you can avoid constant questions like “Are we there yet?”.

Keep these tips in mind and your holiday travel plans should go off without a hitch!  As always, we want to remind all drivers to behave responsible, do not drink and drive, and if you’re feeling drowsy, pull over and take a nap.  We want everyone to have a fun, and SAFE holiday!

Photo By: Kristin Nador




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