Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle is a huge responsibility. Not only do your actions affect yourself and your passengers, but the slightest mistake can have dire consequences on those with whom you share the road. Because of this, you must make a point to understand the roads you’re on, know how your vehicle operates, and use common sense in inclement weather. And because road conditions can change from one day to the next, your driving habits may need to be tweaked for optimal safety. Here are some helpful tips, presented by Gateway Auto.
Before you set off:
Before you begin any trip, take care to ensure that you are in a calm, clear-headed state of mind. Driving under stress or while distracted can lead to mistakes and accidents, so employ some deep breathing techniques before you set off. You can also reduce overall stress in your life by taking steps at home, such as decluttering, eating well, and staying active. Employing these techniques and strategies will help you maintain calm and focus in your vehicle, regardless of the road conditions.
Driving in the snow:
Icy road conditions are probably the first thing you think about when you think of tough weather. Whether it’s simply a dusting or a winter wonderland, there are a few things you should know about driving in the snow. First, according to Outside, panicking is the worst thing you can do. Instead of slamming on your brakes in a moment of fear, try to maintain your composure. Turn your steering wheel so that your vehicle stays as forward-facing as possible. This will lessen the chances that your tires will suddenly grip the road when you’re skidding sideways, which can flip your car.
You also need to make sure that you have a fully charged phone handy. Although driving with a device in your hands is strictly off-limits regardless of the conditions, having a way to call for help during the winter is not negotiable.
If you don’t already have a reliable device—and a data plan that accommodates you whenever you need your GPS or for weather info—spend some time shopping for something more suitable. While many of the best deals are on family plans, with a bit of research, you can also get a great price for a single device plan that won’t leave you paying for excess usage fees.
Driving during a wildfire:
Unfortunately, wildfires are just a way of life in some states. You must know how to protect yourself and your loved ones when what’s coming down from the sky is ash instead of rain or snow.
Virginia Tech stresses that if you do get caught in a blaze, keep your windows rolled up and close your air vents. Drive as slowly as possible, and always keep your headlights on. If you can’t go any farther, power the vehicle down, keeping your keys in the ignition so that your headlights work. Have everyone move from their seat to the floor and cover yourself with a blanket or anything else that can help filter the smoke.
After an accident:
Accidents happen, and especially during bad weather and emergencies. It is your responsibility to handle the aftermath. At the scene, if it is safe, set road flares (obviously not during a wildfire) and call the police. If there are injuries, let the dispatcher know so they can send other emergency personnel. Take photos, exchange information with the other driver, if applicable, and call your insurance company as soon as possible, either while you are waiting on emergency services or as soon as the road is clear.
You should also take steps to protect yourself financially, and the more you know, the better off you’ll be. Learn all about your coverage so you’re prepared if something happens. For instance, ask your insurance company how they determine total loss status. Some will declare this if it will cost more than 75% of the vehicle’s value to make necessary repairs. Ask also about how they determine the fair value, and what after-market features you might have had that would increase it. Some insurance companies may also consider extensive work that was recently done, such as a new engine or transmission.
Keeping yourself and others safe in treacherous driving conditions is not always easy. But, with a bit of preparation, a calm mind, and the right protections in place, you can prevent the worst kinds of disasters. Even in ever-changing conditions, you can stay safe and sound.
This article is brought to by Gateway Auto, providing vehicle service, collision repair, and car sales to the Greater Omaha area since 2002. For more information, please visit our website or schedule an appointment today!