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Tips to help you reduce the risk of a winter vehicle crash

Even in the best of weather, driving is a risky task. Massachusetts has recently seen an increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes. When snow and ice cover the streets, the potential for a severe collision or crash typically increases.

For the average driver, navigating the roads during inclement winter weather is a risky proposition. In addition to the risk posed by losing control of your own vehicle due to slippery conditions and compromised visibility, there is the danger that comes from all the other drivers on the road. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of a weather-related crash during the long Massachusetts winter.

Prepare your vehicle for the colder weather

There's a reason that so many people invest in snow tires for the winter. Having adequate traction can help prevent you from slipping or sliding into a building, tree or another vehicle. These tires are also typically thicker, meaning they lose less air pressure due to the cold temperatures.

There are other steps you can take to get your vehicle winter ready as well. Before the snow hits, you should take your vehicle into a trusted mechanic for an inspection and seasonal maintenance. Replacing worn wiper blades, for example, can ensure better visibility during a major snow storm. Checking and addressing mechanical issues can also reduce the potential for a crash.

Leave plenty of time for cold weather travel

It can be a struggle to get out of bed on the coldest mornings, but those are the days when it's most important that you do so. First of all, you'll need to clean your car of ice and snow, as well as starting it up before you intend to leave to allow the engine to warm up for proper functioning. Doing so ensure good visibility and reduces the risk of stalling or other engine issues related to the cold.

You should also schedule your morning carefully, allowing plenty of time to leave early for your ride. Try to budget an extra 20-50 percent of the time it usually takes for your commute. Driving slowly reduces your risk of a crash or of losing control of the vehicle. So long as you aren't stressing out about being late to work, slower speeds can make your commute much safer.

Plan ahead for a potential weather-related issue

No matter how carefully you drive, you could still hit black ice or end up in a ditch somewhere. Pack a bag with supplies, just in case you go off the road. You want to have boots or warm shoes you can walk in, a flashlight, a hat, a blanket, mittens and potentially flares or other emergency lighting.

While you may never need them, if you find yourself in a ditch when coming home from a party in thin dress clothing, you'll be very grateful that you took the time to plan ahead.

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