Fall/Winter Driving Safety Tips from Meemic

As the days get shorter and colder, hazards on the roads increase. Winter has its ice and snow, of course, but fall driving has its own unique set of challenges.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as we move through the seasons.
Pack a car emergency kit: First off, weather in the Midwest can be severe, and storms can develop suddenly. Before heading out on the road, make sure you’re prepared for an emergency in case your car becomes stranded. Creating a car emergency kit with the following items will help you be even better prepared for safe fall and winter driving:
• Inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and jack
• Shovel
• Jumper cables
• Bag of salt, sand or kitty litter for traction if your car becomes stuck
• Tool kit (wrenches, a ratchet/socket set, screwdrivers and pliers)
• Tow chain or rope
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Ice scraper and snow brush
• Nonperishable, high-energy food such as nuts, dried fruit and hard candy
• Extra pairs of socks, gloves, hats and blankets
Adjust for the light: Fewer hours of daylight make it more difficult to see pedestrians, cyclists and children heading to and from school or playing in the late afternoon. Also, later sunrises mean that drivers need to adjust to the brighter sun at different times of the morning. Always keep a pair of sunglasses in your car to shield your vision.
Be wary of leaves: Fall foliage is beautiful, but once those leaves start falling and get wet from rain, they can become a serious driving hazard. Wet leaves are slippery and reduce traction. If leaves are raked onto the street for collection, parking on top of them can be a fire hazard. Also, there may be children playing in the piles.
Watch for deer: If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, remember not to swerve. Brake firmly and hold onto the steering wheel with both hands. Come to a controlled stop and move the vehicle out of traffic to a safe location.
Slow down: Do everything at a slower pace — including braking, turning and changing speeds. Keep plenty of distance between you and the other cars on the road, and give sufficient warning time when turning, stopping or changing lanes. It can take three to 10 times longer to stop on icy or snowy roads.
Beware black ice: What looks like water on the roadway may actually be black ice. Proceed cautiously — black ice is an extra thin layer of ice that’s likely to form on bridges and overpasses, intersections and shady areas.
Skid control: If you start to skid, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid. If your car has antilock brakes (ABS), apply constant, firm pressure to the brake pedal. For vehicles without ABS, pump the brakes slowly and gently to avoid wheel lockup.
Do a quick check: Always keep brake lights and headlights clear of ice and snow. Always remove excess snow or ice from your vehicle. Always keep window-washing fluid levels full during winter and keep extra fluid in your vehicle.
Compiled by Eric Henrickson. For more safe driving tips, visit http://www.Meemic.com/Safety.

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