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Keeping safe this winter: tips for icy driving

In our last post, we discussed the tragic death of a 24-year-old graduate student on the Baltimore Beltway. Investigators believe that icy road conditions are partly, if not mostly, to blame for the accident which caused her death. With several more harsh winter months ahead of us, drivers everywhere should begin adopting certain defensive driving habits to better accommodate dangerous winter roads. These habits will help commuters avoid costly, and potentially tragic, accidents and injuries.

Several organizations are issuing lists of winter driving tips, including the National Safety Council, the Emergency Medical Services Authority, and the AAA. Heeding even just a few of their suggestions can drastically improve your safety on the road.

Some of the tips include:

•· Move slowly. Accelerating and braking with rapid or jerky motions can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

•· If you start to skid, do not overcompensate or attempt to steer against the skid. Instead, stop accelerating and steer into the turn

•· Double check that your car is fully stocked with windshield washer fluid before you begin driving. A clear windshield dramatically improves your ability to see the road and anticipate the actions of your fellow drivers. If you do run out of washer fluid during your commute, either pull into the nearest gas station or rub snow on your windshield as a last resort.

•· Leave plenty of room between yourself and the car in front of you. Some estimates claim that cars need double the amount to time to stop on ice roads than dry roads, so it is important to give yourself more time to react.

Adopting these and other defensive driving strategies this winter is important for the safety of everyone on the road. Sometimes, all it takes is one careless driver to cause a large amount of damage.

This winter, too many people have already discovered the financial, physical, and emotional costs associated with an auto accident. While no one can control the weather, everyone can control their driving habits. Adjusting yours could save both you and your fellow drivers a world of trouble.

Source: Tulsa World online, "Groups Offer Winter Driving Tips," Phil Mulkins, 31 January 2011

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