Ice, snow, freezing fog, sleet, hail – Winter weather comes with many possibilities. It seems here in Indiana, our weather likes to surprise us, doing unexpected things. While many of us enjoy the sudden, unexpected warmth on a January day, we don’t enjoy the other surprises winter weather can bring.
Last month, I saw a warning for freezing fog on a Monday morning. I read the warning, but didn’t think too much of it. While fog affects my drive, it isn’t unmanageable.
I had no idea that the roads would be covered with ice. Ice is my most hated part of winter weather, because it can be impossible to see and cause catastrophic accidents.
That day my commute to Killingbeck Insurance here in Kokomo, Indiana was stressful and frightening. It was also extremely slow.
Along U.S. 31, I saw many slide offs where vehicles had lost control on the icy roads and gone off into the field or the median. There were also multiple accidents around bridges. The most frightening, and memorable event from that drive was a Jeep.
As I was driving north, I saw a Jeep headed south that lost control. The Jeep went into the median, and rolled completely over. The top of the Jeep didn’t even look like a solid vehicle anymore – every corner was bent or partially torn away. Honestly, I felt shock at seeing this happen. The vehicles around me seemed to as well, because everyone around me drove much slower after that.
I sincerely hope that driver was okay and that help came swiftly. Auto accidents can be scary, and don’t have to involve more than our own vehicle.
Winter weather brings out many new dangers to the roads, and makes careful driving even more essential. In fact, the best way to try to avoid a slide off or unwanted accident from winter weather on the roads is to learn to drive for winter weather.
First of all, know as much as you can before you get on the roads. Check weather conditions and road conditions. Indiana has a helpful website for Road and Weather information to check county status for weather advisories and road conditions. Pay attention while you walk out to your car if your driveway is slick or there is ice on your car.
For those of you who have to park outside like me, clean off your car before driving. Make sure you can see out all windows and don’t lose visibility from stuck on snow or ice. If it’s cold enough out, defrost inside the car won’t necessarily remove all ice from the windshield.
If winter weather has affected the roads, or has the potential to, allot more time for your regular drive so you aren’t in a rush. My regular commute takes about 40 minutes. In bad winter weather, it can be well over an hour.
Make sure you have maintained your car for winter weather. This could mean making sure your tires still have good traction and are filled, or getting winter tires. A regular check-up of your car is a good idea so you don’t suffer a break-down or malfunction while stuck in cold weather.
Be prepared ahead of time by having supplies in your car. It’s a good idea to keep an ice scraper, shovel and some blankets in your car in case you are in an accident, have to dig out your car, or lose power and need to keep warm. If you are traveling far in bad weather, having food and water available is also a good idea.
Be smart when driving on the roads. If conditions are slick or visibility limited, SLOW DOWN. I was amazed the day we had freezing fog how many people were speeding past me. At a slower speed, my car was already reacting with movements back and forth from the ice.
Leave a larger following distance from the vehicle in front of you than normal during bad winter weather. This gives you more time to react and stop if the road turns out to be too slick or icy, and makes it less likely you’ll run into the vehicle in front of you from unexpected conditions.
Learn how to drive on ice. You can’t do anything as fast when driving on ice: stopping, starting, or turning. Sudden reactions can cause you to slide or lose control.
Indiana winters always bring us unexpected weather. It’s a good time to make sure you have the auto insurance coverage you want before you need to use it. It’s also a good time to be careful and drive safe.
Take care out there. If you need our help looking over your coverage or with an accident, give us a call.
Photo: "Westfield Winter 2014" by Cara Fruehling. January 2014.