This winter, the best advice for driving in bad weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. But sometimes you just can’t. With messy snow and ice threatening to hamper the family trip to grandma's house, now is probably a good time to improve your knowledge of road safety.

Winter Weather Safety Tips

For starters, don't go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. 

Sign Up for E-News

Winterize Your Vehicle

Schedule a maintenance checkup for your tires, battery, belts and hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers and ignition system. Keep your gas tank sufficiently full – at least half a tank is recommended.

Equip Your Vehicle with Chains or Snow Tires

When it comes to traction on slick winter roads, you’ll want to consider using tire chains or snow tires.  Tire chains are highly effective and can be purchased at just about any auto store. Inexpensive, and easy to install and remove, tire chains will give you that maximum grip to ensure your safety. 

An equally effective alternative for winter driving safety is the use of snow tires, which provides the added benefit of giving your standard tires a rest during the winter months. You’ll feel like you’re driving around in your very own snow mobile as you stop, turn corners and change lanes without the worry of your back end sliding. Most snow tires cost less than an insurance deductible and last at least three seasons. And chances are your tire seller will allow you to store your other tires with them during the winter. If the east coast blizzards can teach us one lesson, it's that it's never too early in the season to start thinking about winter tires. Prepare yourself with tire chains or snow tires today.

Purchase Winter Driving Safety Essentials

Before winter hits, do yourself a favor and build a winter driving safety kit for your trunk including a snowbrush, ice scraper, rock salt, small shovel, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables and first aid.

Clean Off Your Car

Before you hit the road, be sure to clear snow and ice from windows, lights, mirrors and the roof. If you don’t, you’ll leave a trail of dangerous conditions for the other drivers around you. This is one of the simplest driving safety tips.

Turn on Your Lights

Winter weather and limited daylight hours can make for limited visibility.  Keep your headlights on at all times so that you can see and be seen.

Slow Down

Failing to allow yourself enough time to stop is a major cause of winter driving accidents. In slippery conditions, stopping distances can triple. Driving at a slower speed, anticipating stops at traffic lights and intersections, and applying brakes sooner than usual are excellent safe winter driving tips to remember. When braking, brake carefully with short, rapid application of the brakes. Always allow plenty of extra space between you and other vehicles to minimize the need for quick stops.

Know How to Handle a Skid

If you’re going a slower speed on winter roads, you shouldn’t find yourself skidding, but if you do, it’s important to know how to handle it. Determine where you want your car to go and turn your steering wheel toward that point. Avoid over-steering.

Get Over the Hill

Drive too slowly and you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels on hills.  Drive too fast and you’ll risk skidding.  So what can you do?  Maintaining momentum. Apply light and even pressure on the gas pedal, and approach the hill with medium speed. At the top of the hill, slow down and roll down the hill slowly.

Maintain Your Car Insurance

While no additional coverage is needed for winter, you should make sure your auto insurance policy has coverage for loss of use. This way, if you happen to get into an accident, you can get a rental car while your vehicle is getting repaired. 

According to NJ insurance agents John Hawk Agency, preparation is key when it comes to winter weather safety tips.  Teenage drivers who are new to the road in general need some extra guidance before they get behind the wheel.  Parents or family members are urged to take teens out to practice in an empty parking lot upon first snow fall.  But the fact is, no matter how old you are, winter driving safety is something you should always have on your driving radar to avoid a car accident.