‘Is the season to be… dangerous?

While we’re all undoubtedly jolly in the winter time — between holidays, family, food and the like — if you’re driving a car, weather conditions can make things much more dangerous and nerve-wracking, as opposed to fostering our beloved holiday cheer. Between snow, ice and the occasional rascal-thrown snowball (we’ve all been there), the chances of getting in a car accident increase dramatically in the winter. With this in mind, following are a list of ways you can make sure your halls are decked with boughs of holly this winter — not Grinch-y insurance claims.

Drive Exceedingly Safe

    You should always drive safe but in winter, you should drive like your grandma (no offense to grandma’s out there — you ladies are the safest drivers around!) It’s important to drive slowly is there’s fresh snow on the ground, especially if you have a smaller car that weighs less, and thus has less traction.

Also, be weary of other drivers who may be less experienced or are perhaps just more reckless. Remember: most of the time, it’s not you that you have to worry about on the road, it’s the other drivers. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t keep your own driving in mind as well, but try to watch other drivers more carefully too, in order to see whom you should maybe drive further away from. Lastly, we know the Christmas music is so, so sweet when it’s blasted through your car’s stereo, but sometimes music can take away from a driver’s attention to the road. If you’re feeling unsure about the current driving conditions, you should probably turn down the second replay of “Jingle Bell Rock” for the night. We know it hurts. But trust us — it’s for the best.

Take Special Precautions

    As has been said before (but we can’t help stressing the point), driving in the winter can be incredibly hazardous. So far we’ve covered that you have to look out for ice, un-plowed snow, and if your car is on the lighter side, you have to be careful about the turns you’re taking and the amount of snow on the ground as well (unless you’re a fan of doughnuts… the bad kind.)

Knowing this, it’s a good idea to always let someone know a few things before you leave the house in the winter: 1) when you’re leaving; 2) what your route will be; and 3) how long you think it will take you to get there. Also, you should call or text that person when you get to your location. All this may seem like a bit much, but with the foregoing information, whomever you talked to will know exactly where you are in case anything unfortunate happens on the road.

Check Your Vehicle’s Operating Condition

    The operating condition of your vehicle is always important, but in the winter this is especially critical because the weather conditions can confer much stronger consequences of a vehicular failure. First, you should check your battery; batteries are much weaker in the cold weather, and it’s important to make sure yours is in working condition. Next, you should check that your tires have all-season tread and are in good condition. Finally, you should ensure that your wiper blades are holding up, your radiator is lookin’ good, and that you have sufficient levels of coolant and antifreeze.

Be Prepared For The Worst

    While following the above steps will almost certainly ensure safe travels this winter, nothing is 100 percent guaranteed. Despite good preparation, there is always a small chance that your car may break down or otherwise leave you stranded. It’s a scary scenario (however unlikely), and it’s one that you should prepare for by keeping several blankets and extra warm clothing in the trunk of your car. Also, you should pack some extra food and water, and a source of heat such as a multi-wick candle with matches will always help in extreme cold conditions. Finally, if you’re going to be traveling in remote areas, you should consider keeping flares and a whistle in your trunk in order to signal for help if you end up needing it.

Written by Bill Kasmann, owner of Kasmann Insurance, an independent insurance agency providing home and auto insurance in Columbia, MO.

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