Holy cow, Batman, it’s winter again. Sadly, Robin probably never said this to Adam West’s Batman and the lyrics from the song by The Band are not quite right. Which brings me to a Scottish group appropriately called Snow Patrol and their lyrics to Holy Cow include the fabulous line, “The telegraph pole knows where you live.” Yes, friends, it’s that time of the year again. Let’s start with a fact you do not want to hear. Claims arising from traffic accidents in snow are 40% higher than from the accidents when the road conditions are dry and the visibility is good. As you sit behind the wheel of the vehicle with that sense of absolute powerlessness, remember Holy Cow. You can turn the steering wheel this way and that. You can pump the brakes for all you are worth. But if that telegraph pole wants to get you, it will.
So what can you do? Let’s start with pre-snow planning. One of the worst things to happen is walking to your vehicle at night and finding it will not start. Always have your engine retuned to improve cold weather starting. Otherwise you can find yourself stranded waiting for help to arrive. This brings up several pointers. Is your cell phone always charged? You need to be able to make calls for help. Have you programmed in the numbers of your garage and a towing company? Or have you joined a club like the AAA. There are some good emergency roadside assistance packages out there.
Look for the best value given the number of times you are forced to drive in poor weather conditions. Is there an emergency kit in your vehicle. You need a blanket to keep you warm and hazard flares to warn other drivers. Finally, check the windshield wipers to keep maximum visibility in sleet and snow and either fit snow tires or have good all-season tires with chains to clip on to the wheels if conditions worsen unexpectedly.
Now the driving itself. The most important rule is not to drive unless it is absolutely necessary. If you cannot avoid going out in icy conditions with snow forecast or falling, always drive slowly, keeping the maximum possible distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Expect everyone else to be out of control and about to crash into you – given the accident statistics, this is not an unrealistic expectation. So be prepared to stop or get out of the way of other drivers. Apply these rules and you should arrive at your destination in one piece. The aim should be to avoid making any claim on your car insurance policy and facing the usual increase in the premium rate – insurance companies like to stay in profit and react when you claim. The ability to drive safely in winter also grows with experience.
As a new driver or someone moving north from the eternal sunshine of the south, the car insurance quotes are likely to reflect this lack of experience. Be prepared for the worst. The premiums will start and stay higher until you have survived one or two winters. That said, the basic technique is to drive defensively, always assuming the worst of the road conditions and other drivers. Let’s hope you can learn how to survive without too many crashes on the way.