From new drivers to tested motorists, we could all benefit from a few winter driving tips. Although winter may not officially begin until next month, New Hampshire drivers know that winter driving could begin any day. Each year, typically around mid-October, winter winds begin to carry icy air down from the north and temperatures start to fall below freezing overnight. These wintery conditions open the door to black ice, surprise snow accumulations, and treacherous driving conditions.
Although historically the occurrence of major storms has been low at this time of year, in October 2011, a Noreaster swept through southern New Hampshire and the surrounding states. Throughout New England, heavy and wet snow brought down miles of power lines and blocked roads; some homes and businesses lost electricity for over a week.
Whether the first storm hits in November or January, use the following winter driving tips to help you better navigate New Hampshire’s icy highways and byways this winter:
- Wear Your Safety Beltâ€“ Winterâ€™s treacherous road conditions create an elevated level of danger on the road. Drivers and passengers wearing safety belts are at a much lower risk of injury in the event of a collision.
- Slow Downâ€“ Itâ€™s crucial to slow down and obey all speed limits as stopping distances become dramatically longer during inclement weather. Maintaining control of a vehicle on slippery winter roads demands a slower speed from the driver.
- Give Yourself Extra Time â€“Winter driving takes time. Plan ahead to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Doubling the typical drive time is a safe estimate in inclement weather. Tune your radio to a local weather station.
- Plan Ahead for Lane Changes â€“Everyday maneuvers like changing lanes become dangerous in the winter. Limit lane changes as much as possible and when you need to change lanes, give yourself extra time and make a gradual shift to the other lane.
- Leave Plenty of Room â€“Stopping distances double on slippery roads. When driving on the highway, leave four or more vehicle lengths between you and the car in front of you. Never use cruise control. When driving in suburban or urban areas, leave as much room as possible.
- Break Easily â€“On slippery roads, pushing hard on the breaks can cause your vehicleto skid uncontrollably. Gently engaging the brakes will bring your vehicle to a smooth stop. Today, most vehicles are equipped with anti-lock breaking systems. If yours is so equipped, use this guide from the National Safety Council to learn more how to use them properly. If you have standard breaks, pump them gently.
- Take Your Foot Off the Accelerator â€“ If your car does enter a skid, take your foot off the accelerator immediately and your vehicle may regain traction. If you must steer to regain control or prevent a collision, steadily point the wheels in the direction you would like the vehicle to travel.
- Use Care on Bridges, Ramps, and Overpasses â€“Because freezing temperatures have access to the top and bottom of the roadâ€™s surface, these structures freeze faster than others. Expect them to be especially slippery.
- Never Pass a Snowplow or Sanding Truck â€“ Drivers of these vehicles have extremely limited visibility, may change direction without notice, and are not likely to be aware of your approach. Itâ€™s safest to stay behind these vehicles.
- Beware of Changing Conditionsâ€“ Winter in New Hampshire means constantly changing road conditions. A single degree of temperature variance can represent thedifference between wetness and black ice. Additional factors such assun, shade, wind, and elevation all play a role in road conditions as well.
It is also prudent to keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle in the event that you break down and become stranded. Click here to learn how to build your own winter survival kit. Having these simple items handy will enable you to stay safe until roadside assistance arrives.
Before we know it, the winds will be howling, the snow will be falling, and ice will be forming. Our stateâ€™s road conditions may be treacherous, but with planning and attention to detail, we can ensure that this winter is a safer season for everyone on the road.
At Barton Insurance Agency, our agents work to ensure that you, your loved ones, and your valuable assets remain protected. For additional safety tips, please review our other blog posts, or connect with us on Facebook. To get a free insurance quote, please call us today at 603-526-6991 or click here to submit our online quote request form.