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The Winter Driving Habits That Could Cost You

November 21, 2012

Winter DrivingCanadian drivers know that our winters can make road conditions slippery and dangerous, and that means that being on the road during those months carries more risk than during dry summer months. Unfortunately, many drivers have some bad driving habits that could result in an accident or a roadside emergency that result in injuries or worse. These winter driving habits could mean increased car insurance rates, and they are also dangerous – so this winter, make sure to break them.

Driving Too Fast for Road Conditions

Speed limits don’t change during the winter months, but the rate of speed that is safe for current road conditions does. Many people aren’t aware of it, but law enforcement officers can use their judgment to determine what speed is safe and appropriate for the current state of the roads. That means that you can get a ticket for driving too fast for road conditions even if you’re doing the speed limit. Furthermore, road conditions can turn what might normally be a basic speeding ticket into a more serious violation for careless driving. When roads are slippery, snowy, or visibility is poor, slow down and proceed with caution. Otherwise you could pay both a ticket fine and on your insurance rates.

Failing to Use Winter Tires

It’s true that a good set of all-season tires can get you through most weather. But winter tires exist for a reason. In the deep cold of Canadian winters and the slick road conditions that result from ice and packed snow, traction is everything. Winter tires are designed to hold up to the cold and to grip the road better even when it’s icy. The accident that could result from not having these tires on your car might cost you a whole lot more than a new set of snow tires. They can also save you some money on your insurance bill, because many insurance companies offer a discount to those who use them. When obtaining car insurance quotes, be sure to mention that you install winter tires during the winter.

Skipping Maintenance and Running the Gas Tank Low

During the winter it’s vital that your car be in top condition so that it can run properly even in the cold. It’s also important to keep enough gas in your tank and never run low, especially when you are driving out in the country. Finding yourself stranded in freezing conditions is dangerous, and if you are stuck on the side of the road in poor visibility, you become a potential hazard to other drivers as well. Keep up on regular maintenance, be sure to have all your fluids updated for the winter, and make sure you always have enough gas to get where you are going.

Failing to Adjust Stopping Distance

When roads are slippery, it takes longer to bring a car to a stop. The faster you are moving, the harder it is to stop and the more time you will need. During the winter it’s important to adjust your stopping distances to account for ice and snow on the road. That means following cars in front of you less closely, and starting to brake sooner when there is a stop sign or red light ahead. Pay attention to amber lights so that you can start braking with enough time to come to a safe stop. Your braking habits in the winter should be much more cautious than when the roads are dry. Get in the habit at the first snowfall and stick to it throughout the winter. Remember that in most cases, road conditions don’t change the fault determination in an accident.

Skipping Visibility-Improving Steps

When you’re in a hurry it can be tempting to pull out of the driveway before the windshield is completely defrosted or with frost on the mirrors. It’s also easy to forget how dirty headlights and taillights can become especially during the early and late winter. But driving without taking the time to clean and clear all windows and lights is a dangerous and potentially costly proposition. It means not only that you can’t see as well as you should, but that others can’t see you as easily. It can cause an accident that could cost you on your insurance rates, or even worse, result in injuries.

There’s no good time for bad driving habits, but during the winter months it becomes even more vital that you stick to good, safe driving habits and try even harder to improve them. During the winter when road conditions get dangerous, you may need to adjust some of your regular driving habits to ensure you’re safe on the road. Not doing this can cost you in more ways than one.