Winter’s nearly here. On the one hand, that means hot chocolate, Christmas celebrations, and snowball fights. On the other, it means that the roads are more dangerous than ever – at least, provided you’re unprepared.

The interesting thing about winter is that there tends to be fewer car accidents when there’s ice on the road (perhaps because everyone drives far more cautiously). With that in mind, what accidents do occur tend to be far more severe. Today, we’re going to discuss how you can avoid such situations, and stay safe on the road – no matter how much ice and snow there is.

First, take a look at your car. Check to make sure you’ve got enough antifreeze and coolant. It’s also imperative that you make sure you switch out to winter tires before the first snowfall and make sure your heat and wipers are working properly.

If you’ve the expertise, you can probably handle all the above yourself. Otherwise, take your car to a mechanic and have them look it over for you. Let them know you want to get your vehicle winter-ready, and they should be able to handle the rest.

Next, it’s time to stock up on the necessary supplies. In your vehicle, make sure you’ve got a shovel, an ice scraper & brush, a thermal blanket, matches, booster cables, a flashlight, an emergency escape tool, a first aid kit, sand, and some non-perishable snacks, an emergency candle, extra antifreeze, and a spare cell phone charger.

Finally, make sure you pay close attention to the weather each time you’re going to be on the road. When there’s a snowstorm on the way, drive extra cautious – or avoid going out on the road, if at all possible. And make sure you give yourself considerably more time than you think you need to get to your destination, as you cannot be certain what the road conditions will be like.

Last but certainly not least, be safe when you do get out there. Take curves and turns as slow as legally possible, and always plan ahead when you know you’ll need to make a lane change. Avoid speeding, as well – ice is dangerous enough when you’re going the speed limit; if you hit a patch when you’re going too fast to remain in control, bad things are going to happen.

Of course, there are going to be occasions when you find yourself losing control of your vehicle in spite of your best efforts. The important thing in these situations is not to panic. Calmly and quickly steer in the direction your vehicle is sliding until you start to regain control, then straighten your wheels.

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