Everybody like a snowy holiday season -- until they have to drive in it. Driving on slick, snowy roads can test any driver's nerves -- and it's even worse in the dark.
Weather-related car accidents claim about 6,000 lives every year, so it's important to review some reminders about what it takes to stay safe when you're behind the wheel. Here are the top things you should keep in mind:
1. Speed is your enemy.
Wet, snowy roads make it harder to brake. It's also harder to accelerate. Start your daily commute a little earlier than normal in winter weather so you aren't rushing. If you have to merge into traffic, look for a bigger gap between cars than you normally need. Keep your cruise control off, and be willing to adjust your speed according to the state of the roads as you go. The more snow you see on the ground, the slower you need to go.
2. Don't stop unless you must.
Normally, you should always come to a complete stop at every stop sign or light. In snow, you need to try to slow to a crawl without actually stopping. A steady pace can help you avoid sending your car into a spin that will cause you to careen into parked cars or slide into a ditch.
3. Keep your car prepared.
This means making sure that the basics are covered, like having snow tires on during the winter and ensuring that your brakes and lights are all in good working order. However, it also means having emergency food, water and blankets packed in the vehicle in case you get stranded.
4. Stay home when you can.
If it's snowing hard and the streets aren't clear, see if you can find a way to stay home instead of venturing out. If your job can be done from home, see if your boss will let you work remotely for the day. If you can put off a social engagement to another day, do it.
Sometimes, it simply doesn't matter how prepared you are or how cautious. One careless move by another driver can involve you in a serious accident. If that happens, you may be able to claim compensation for your injuries and lost wages.