Take care in winter weather to avoid car accidents

Whether you're ready or not, the winter driving season is already here -- so it's time to go back over the rules of the road once the ice and snow start coming down.

According to statistics gathered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), ice and snow are responsible for auto accidents that cause about 1,300 deaths and 116,800 injuries every year. To avoid becoming part of those statistics, you should:

  1. Go slow -- Speed is your enemy when the roads are covered with snow or ice. Everything you do -- from accelerating while you merge into traffic to braking at a light -- is going to take longer because of the slickness of the roads. Give yourself additional time to accomplish every maneuver.
  2. Exercise caution on bridges -- Bridges and overpasses are inclined to freeze before any other part of the road. Be particularly cautious when you're on them and drop your speed even further.
  3. Anticipate a difficult braking job -- Give yourself at least twice the distance (or more) to brake than you give yourself on warmer days. Avoid pumping your brakes as much as possible. Overusing your brakes on snow can cause you to go into a spin.
  4. Practice defensive driving -- You can't just worry about your own vehicle in the snow. You have to worry about everyone else's driving as well. Stay focused and alert and don't let any distractions -- including your phone and your radio -- get in your way.
  5. Buy snow tires -- Snow tires are designed to give your vehicle a better grip on the road. If you live in a particularly snowy part of the country, consider adding chains to your tires as well. All-season tires just don't cut it in the worst snow.
  6. Check your headlights -- You don't want visibility issues during winter weather. Make sure that your headlights are clean and operational before you head out on the road.

If you do get into an accident this winter due to another driver's negligence, don't forget that you may have the right to claim compensation for your injuries and other losses.

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