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Keven Moore: Winter driving conditions require some adjustments to driving habits; some tips to stay safe

It’s January and if you are anything like me, it’s your least favorite time of the year. I tend to find myself trying to avoid the chilly weather outdoors, curled up next to my Buck Stove down in my basement binge-watching multiple Netflix, Apple, Paramount, Prime, and Hulu shows and movies whenever possible.

It’s inevitable however with my job that I must still get out on the roadways, and I oftentimes find myself navigating through a winter wonderland trying to avoid those that don’t know how to drive.

Winter driving is dangerous, particularly for new drivers. But driving safely in winter weather can be a challenge for even the most experienced driver. It’s easy to forget after months of mild conditions that snow and ice demand careful and special preparation for your vehicle. With 17% of all vehicle crashes occurring during winter conditions, it’s clear that we could all use a refresher when it comes to making our way across the frozen tundra on icy roadways.

Extra precautions are necessary when driving in winter weather. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

A variety of winter weather conditions — including snow, slush, ice, and sleet — can create hazards on the road. According to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) more than 150,000 (56,164) auto crashes occur annually due to icy roads, and over 1,800 people die per year in a car crash due to driving in snowy and icy conditions.

Around 70% of the population in the United States lives in places that have snowy and icy conditions during the winter and 70% of U.S. roads get at least five inches of snow annually.

Icy pavement causes 13% of all weather-related car crashes. In terms of the number of weather-related crashes by condition, icy pavement ranks fourth behind wet pavement, rain, and snow/sleet. It is also the fourth-deadliest weather condition, ranking behind wet pavement, rain, and fog.

According to AAA, driving on snowy roads can take your car 10 times longer to stop completely. The single most important piece of advice I can give you is to “SLOW DOWN & INCREASE YOUR FOLLOWING DISTANCE” when the snow starts to fall and temperatures drop below freezing.

After surviving the carefree and risky days of my youth, I have since found wisdom from my experiences. I now have three adult kids who have heard me preach that tried-and-true wisdom for years.

To acquire knowledge one must study, but to acquire true wisdom one must live through it.

You can alternatively observe others’ failures, and listen to those that learned the hard way.

Below are some tips here that should be helpful in ensuring your safe travels:

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@higusa.com

• Allow yourself extra time to get to your destination. Plan ahead by staying up to date on your local weather forecasts.

• Slow down ahead of turns and curves, as this will allow you to prepare for potential icy spots.

• Apply power slightly to the gas and steer steadily when at a curve. Do not change directions abruptly and remember to refrain from braking suddenly.

• Watch your mirrors and be prepared for lane changes. Check your rearview mirror and blind spot, and then signal your direction to alert other motorists.

• Move over in a long, gradual line with minimal steering changes when changing lanes. Never make any drastic steering maneuvers.

• Keep your head up and look out for ice patches and spots with snow buildup. These areas are skidding hazards.

• Avoid using your cruise control. 

• Anticipate stops by slowing down gradually, well ahead of intersections. These areas are generally slicker than other parts of the road because of the excess starting and stopping traffic.

• Drive at reduced speeds. Slow your speed and increase your following distance behind the vehicle in front of you. This will allow for a larger buffer in case you start to lose control.

• Avoid overpowering your vehicle in deep snow.

• Use a light foot on the accelerator rather than slamming on the gas to move forward.

Always remember, “a clever person solves a problem, but a wise person avoids it when at all possible.”

Be Safe My Friends.

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