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How to drive safe when the weather is bad

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Accidents are just that, an accident, and in most cases, they are not planned.

Some states are worse than others in climate-related crashes, and If you live in one of these states, you'll want to know your best vehicle options, maintenance tips, and driving behaviors to help you brave the elements — and maybe get some car insurance discounts for your clean driving record too.

You can avoid increasing your car insurance due to an accident and find ways to keep your family safe by implementing a few changes to your driving behaviors and learning how to drive in the rain as well as other bad weather conditions. 

Which states are ranked the worst for weather-related crashes
Driving in bad weather is never a fun experience and can be unavoidable. However, if you live in West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Wyoming, or Oregon, you should take extra precautions. Those states are in the top 5 for fatal car crashes due to weather. 

In West Virginia, most weather-related accidents are caused by rain. In contrast, most weather-related fatalities were caused by snow in Wyoming. 

Whether you live and drive in one of the five states listed above or another area of the world, we will cover some of the best vehicle options for you to consider. Purchasing a new car or making a few changes to your driving style could save you the hassle and process of filing an insurance claim, thus keeping your insurance rates low. 

Options that can help keep you safe driving in the snow
According to Kelley Blue Book, the best vehicles to drive, whether it's a car, truck, or SUV, are ones that have either all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive functionality. Most people think these terms are the same thing, but in fact, they are not. AWD vehicles are usually either front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive unless the engine senses a tire slipping. The vehicle will trigger all four wheels to start working if that happens.

Four-wheel drive vehicles are just that; all wheels are powered and working cohesively. This option is less available, so purchasing an AWD vehicle will give you the benefits you need if you find yourself driving in snowy road conditions

If you are an experienced driver, a two-wheel drive option could work for you. According to experts, if you are trying to avoid sliding on unpredictable terrain during storms, a four-wheel-drive vehicle may be the best option for you. 

Do tires matter
Tires can impact the way your car performs in bad weather. Some options can be beneficial in different climates and weather situations. The main thing is having a tread; if your tires are bald, you are setting yourself up for potential accidents. Tire blow-out insurance claims can be difficult to win. Understanding the climate you live in can help determine which options best suit you. 

Speaking of tires, let’s dive into some different options. Why pick snow/winter non-studded tires vs. tire chains? Chains are made for easy placement and removal; however, you shouldn't use tire chains on dry roads, so you may be removing them more times than you planned. Tire chains shouldn't be used at high speeds and are better suited for short distances.

Snow or winter non-studded tires generally are used in place of your everyday use tires. This is a nice feature because it ultimately extends the lifespan of the regular tires that your vehicle uses and saves you money. You have to be sure to change them out when the winter weather is over for the season, or you will find yourself replacing them more often. 

Avoiding accidents in snowy weather
Winter weather is notorious for causing delays. Whether you are stuck in traffic because of a multi-car pileup, experiencing visibility issues, or off the road yourself, these times can cause avoidable stress. 

Let’s talk about a few simple fixes that you can implement to help avoid pesky accidents that cause wasted time and your insurance rates to increase. 

It goes without saying and should be done a few times throughout the year, but make sure to give your vehicle a quick inspection. Ensure your wiper blades are working correctly and your fluids are topped off. Check your battery to avoid being stranded in the cold, and keep an extra blanket, gloves, hat, and other cold-weather gear in your trunk. 

Check weather conditions before you plan to leave. If weather conditions seem dangerous enough, delaying your trip may be the best option to help avoid any dangers. 

It is best if you use your turn signal to notify other drivers that you will be slowing down so they can be prepared for it ahead of time. 

And speaking of other drivers — create a more significant distance between yourself and the car in front of you to allow for more time to come to a complete stop. You should also avoid making any sudden movements and slamming on your brakes if at all possible. 

Tips to ease your rainy day drive
Just as you would for driving in snowy weather, postponing your drive to avoid slippery roads will be the simplest way to stay safe. Ensure you avoid sudden braking and maintain a significant distance while driving in the rain.  

When driving in a storm that includes rain, be sure to use your headlights — not your brights — and turn your windshield wipers on. It is important that you keep your car clean. Dirty spots on your windows or windshield can cause vision impairment, potentially leading to accidents. 

Avoid standing water on the roads. If you can’t stop your vehicle from entering standing water, go slow, turn off cruise control, and don't swerve, as it can cause you to lose control.

What about windy conditions
Most drivers wouldn't consider wind when thinking about bad weather, but wind can also cause some damage. Like all other bad weather conditions, avoid driving on days when you know there are likely to be high winds. 

If you must drive on a high-wind day, pay special attention to larger vehicles like semis and commercial vans. Those vehicles are likely to be affected by the wind, potentially forcing them to sway outside the driving lane. 

Be prepared, keep your hands on the steering wheel, anticipate gusts, and pay close attention to your surroundings. If trees surround the roads you are driving on, be on the lookout for branches or other debris in the roadways. Also be careful of wild animals in certain remote areas. You don’t want to wait until after an accident to find out if your insurance covers hitting a deer.

Accidents are just that, an accident, and in most cases, they are not planned. But sometimes, car accidents can be avoided if you take a few extra steps before hitting the roads. When driving in bad weather, the keys to remember are maintaining your distance, using your best judgment, and staying home if the weather is significantly severe. 


Photo by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash

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