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We all know that poor visibility and adverse road conditions create hazards all year, but more so during the winter months. Here are some safe driving tips.

Driving Tips for Bad Weather Conditions

Ed Moffett, Corporate Manager of Technical Services   |  February 19, 2018

We all know that poor visibility and adverse road conditions create hazards all year, but more so during the winter months. Dealing with inclement weather can make for a very challenging driving experience. However, knowing and applying the proper safety measures when driving in inclement weather can help make for a less taxing commute. Check out the following tips to help you stay as safe as possible when traveling in treacherous road conditions.

Driving safety precautions

Perform a pre-trip inspection to avoid mechanical failures and be sure to check:

  • Braking system operation
  • Defrosters
  • Wipers and windshield washer fluid
  • Lights
  • Wipe/clean reflectors and light lens, so the vehicle can be seen
  • Winter weather equipment (tire chains, window ice scraper, brush/broom to remove snow)
  • Pack a winter weather survival bag just in case (water, gloves, hat, and blanket)
  • Be certain all windshields and windows are clear of ice before driving

Road hazards

  • Use caution when driving on bridges or concrete highways, as these surfaces are the first to freeze
  • Don’t pass snowplows or sanders/salters, and don’t follow them too closely either
  • Watch for falling temperatures and ice or snow spots
  • Don't turn corners too tightly
  • Signal early, this allows motorists time to react and adjust
  • Slow down in advance of shaded areas, especially curves, as these areas are cooler and may have black ice
  • Beware of reckless drivers

Use headlights

  • Fog, snow/wet, overcast conditions, and shorter days all reduce daylight further
  • Use low beam headlights in fog or snow; this directs the light to the road surface where it is needed
  • Headlights are important to help you see (and be seen) during bad weather

Use your head

  • Patience is a virtue
  • Give yourself more time
  • Be alert

Slow down

  • Drive an appropriate speed for the conditions
  • Avoid sudden braking
  • Avoid sudden or quick acceleration
  • Avoid sudden changes of direction
  • Make sure you leave yourself an out for an emergency situation

Skidding on ice or losing traction on wet roads

  • Stay calm
  • If the vehicle loses traction and feels like it’s floating, gradually slow down but don’t slam on the brakes
  • Know the type of braking equipment your vehicle has: ABS or non-ABS

As the weather changes throughout the winter months, being prepared will be key to a safe driving experience. When behind the wheel, all drivers should be focused on safety at all times and those who apply the precautions outlined here will greatly improve their chances of having a safer, more productive commute. For more information on how to stay safe on the road, visit the Risk Control Services section on PMA’s website.

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About the Author

Ed Moffett is the Corporate Manager of Technical Services of PMA Companies. In this role, he is responsible for managing and developing the technical services provided by the Risk Control Department, such as industrial hygiene, occupational health, ergonomics, industrial safety, transportation, construction, and property. Ed also oversees PMA’s Solutions Center operation, providing remote risk control services to a portion of PMA's middle market accounts.