Winter driving brings plenty of additional safety concerns. If you've got a new driver, even more so. In the winter, earlier darkness, snow, ice, and even deer activities brings with it unique driving hazards
Factor in increasing numbers of traffic fatalities, and you have more reasons to be ever vigilant. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first half of 2021 saw the largest six-month increase ever recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System's history. The report states that an estimated 20,160 persons died in motor vehicle accidents in the first half of 2021, up 18.4%.
What can you do about driving safer during the winter in Massachusetts?
1. Slow down. It is harder to control or stop your car in the snow.
2. Avoid crowding plowing vehicles. Stay far behind and use extra caution if you must pass.
3. Be prepared for driving emergencies. Stay with your car, and make sure it's visible. Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning by making sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow and run your car only sporadically.
4. Tire Smarts. When it gets cold out, tire pressure decreases. Make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommendation. Extra tip: inflate to the pressure listed on the driver's side door frame, not the pressure indicated on the tire. The former is specific to your vehicle.
5. Car seats. In colder weather, we tend to dress our children in heavy, puffy coats. Heavy coats can interfere with the correct harness fit on a child in a car seat. A better option would be to dress your child in thin, warm layers and add a blanket if extra warmth is needed.
6. Batteries. When it gets colder, your battery power drops. Have your mechanic check your battery, charging system, belts and any other needed repairs.
7. Supplies. Have in your car a snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, sand or kitty litter, jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices, blankets, cell phone charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine.
8. Gas or charge up. Keep your gas tank as close to full whenever possible. For electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, keep your electric vehicle as warm as possible during freezing temperatures. Check with the manufacturer for recommendations.
Of course the standard safe driving practices remain in place: Don't text and drive, don't drive distracted, obey speed limits, never drink and drive, and always wear your seat belt.