Insurance Blog
Thursday, 14 December 2017 16:46

Don’t Get Stuck in the Snow

Forty-one percent of all weather-related car crashes on U.S. roads are due to conditions involving snow, sleet, ice, and slush. Accidents caused by winter weather result in 150,000 injuries and 2,000 deaths each year, on average, according to a study by the Federal Highway Administration.

First Things First: What To Do Before It Snows

  • Before the next storm arrives, check your tire air pressure as well as tire tread. If the tread is worn, it's time to buy new tires.
  • If you drive long distances and frequently, you may want to consider snow tires for New England winter driving. Snow tires offer the best traction -- according to The Heart of New England, traction is improved by 25% in deep snow with snow tires vs. over all-season tires. (Find out how to choose snow tires.) Note that four-wheel drive vehicles, require replacement all four tires to maintain safe handling, not just the rear tires. 
  • If you drive on well plowed and maintained roads, you may get by with all-season tires that are in good condition.
  • If you drive on roads that aren't as well maintained during snow storms, an all-wheel-drive vehicle with winter tires will serve you well
  • A Consumer Reports survey indicates that most AWD drivers don’t think of adding winter tires: Of 54,295 subscribers who drove AWD or 4WD vehicles in the snow for more than six days during the winter of 2014, less than 15 percent equipped their vehicles with winter tires. The rest kept rolling on their all-season tires and took their chances. Consumer Reports strongly recommends  buying four winter tires for whatever vehicle you drive.

Is All-Wheel Drive Enough For New England Winter Driving?

All-wheel drive is perceived as a must-have for many car buyers. But can all-wheel drive really save you when there's snow and ice on the roads? It provides some benefit, but it may be insufficient to get you through a touch New England storm. All-wheel drive gets your car moving from a dead stop, but there are limitations.

According to tests done by Consumer Reports, "Through weeks of driving in snowy, unplowed conditions at Consumer Reports’ 327-acre test center in Connecticut, we found that all-wheel drive didn’t aid in braking or in certain cornering situations. Our evaluations conclusively showed that using winter tires matters more than having all-wheel drive in many situations, and that the difference on snow and ice can be significant."



Keep a snow shovel in your vehicle.

It's better to be prepared with a shovel in your vehicle. Not only will this come in handy for you, you may be a hero to those who are caught unprepared. (Speaking of preparedness, here’s a winter safety kit checklist of other items to keep in your car so you’re ready for pretty much any winter road condition.)


  1. Store a snow shovel in your vehicle. This is particularly handy when you're vehicle is plowed in.
  2. Keep a 20 lb. bag of clay kitty litter in the trunk of your car during the winter months. The added weight in the trunk can help stabilize you (whether or not you have rear-wheel drive), keeping you in control of your vehicle on slick roads. And if you get stuck, simply sprinkle some of the litter around each tire to provide traction in ice or snow.
  3. Turn off the car’s traction control system (usually with a button somewhere on the dashboard or console). Both drive wheels need to have traction for you to get you unstuck. These are the front tires on a front-wheel-drive and the rear tires on rear-wheel drive, AWD and 4WD vehicles. 
  4. Stay with your vehicle; it provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.
  5. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window as a distress signal.
  6. If you become stranded after dark, keep the dome light on. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  7. Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. If the engine is running, a blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide fumes to leak into the passenger compartment.
  8. Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
  9. If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill while trying to conserve gasoline.


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