According to AAA, millions of Americans will choose to drive rather than fly to their family gatherings this year. During the week of Thanksgiving alone, as many as 38.2 million Americans will be on the roads – 90 percent of the 42.5 million expected to travel during the holiday week.
At the same time, snow and ice returns to Michigan making travel conditions precarious. Fremont Insurance would like to remind motorists about the dangers of winter driving and share some tips to help motorists arrive safely at their destinations.
“Driving during a Michigan winter can offer motorists a variety of challenges and lead to some scary situations that may require advance preparation and quick thinking to survive,” said Kurt Dettmer, vice president of marketing for Fremont Insurance. “Slick, wet and snow-covered roads, as well as everything from downpours to hail to white outs are just a few of the things that drivers can expect to deal with. These hazardous conditions, combined with increased traffic due to holiday travel, can lead to dangerous situations and drivers need to prepare accordingly.”
Fremont Insurance offers these 10 safety tips for winter driving to help Michigan drivers arrive safely and avoid costly accidents.
- Light it Up – Before starting out, turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists. Be sure to clear snow and ice completely from all windows, lights, hood and roof. In addition, law enforcement officials are warning that they will be on the lookout for “peephole drivers.”
- Slow it Down – Remember, posted speed limits are for dry pavement. Decrease your speed on icy or snow-covered roads and allow extra distance (at least three times the norm) between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- Look Ahead – Watch the traffic well ahead for extra reaction time. Always drive defensively and give yourself a cushion of time to deal with wintry conditions and remember to use low gears to maintain traction, especially on hills.
- Stay Back – Stay well back of maintenance vehicles and snowplows – at least 200 feet (it’s the law) – and don’t pass on the right. Use extreme caution when passing in a passing lane. Also do not cut quickly in front of heavy trucks. Remember they take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop.
- Pick a Lane – Avoid abrupt lane changes. There may be a snow ridge between lanes. Also, the passing lane may be in worse shape than the driving lane.
- Take a Brake – Brake early and gently to avoid skidding. It takes more time and distance to stop in adverse conditions. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake. Do not pump anti-lock brakes. The right way is to stomp and steer.
- Watch for Signs – Watch for slippery bridge decks and other areas prone to becoming slick, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Often a sign will remind drivers that bridge decks will ice up sooner than adjacent pavement, but even if there is no sign, drivers should remember to be cautious.
- Stay in Control – Don’t use cruise control or overdrive in wintry conditions. Even a slight depression of your brakes to deactivate can cause loss of control on hidden slippery patches
- Avoid Assumptions – Do not assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles encounter trouble on winter roads. The false sense of security these vehicles offer can leave you less prepared to deal with an emergency situation when it occurs.
- Stay Home – Don’t drive at all in adverse conditions if you can avoid it. If you can’t, try to wait until the snow plows and sanders have been out. Always remember that it’s better to arrive a few minutes late and be safe than to drive too fast for conditions and not arrive at all.
“Regardless of your driving skill or level of experience, Michigan roads can offer some of the most challenging driving conditions in the country,” reminds Dettmer. “If I had to give people just one bit of advice, it would be to simply slow down. It seems like everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere these days, particularly during the holiday season, and the faster you are going, the less time you have to react in an emergency situation.”
Fremont Insurance is a subsidiary of the Auto Club Group, serving the Independent Agents of Michigan. The company has been a Pure Michigan company since 1876.
More at www.fmic.com