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Winter has come early here in Northern Michigan, at least a little earlier than it did last year. Now that the roads are covered in snow and ice, we have to use a little extra caution as we race about town looking for that last Xmas gift. We all need to keep in mind the following safe driving tips as we head into the coldest months of the year here in Northern Michigan.

When driving in the winter, it’s important to remember the 3 P’s:

Prepare for the Trip
Protect Yourself
Prevent Car Crashes on the Road

Prepare for the Trip:
First, it’s important to properly maintain your car. Keep an eye on your tire tread, windshield wipers, wiper fluid, antifreeze and your battery. This isn’t the time of year to get caught out in the cold with a dead car.

Second, always have the following on hand in your car in case of an accident:
Jumper Cables, shovel, blankets, flashlight, warning devices/flares, snow brush and abrasive material like kitty litter or sand. For longer trips, add water, cell phone and food to the list.

Third, if you are stopped or stalled and there’s no help around, stay with your car. Put bright markers on your antenna and shine your interior lights if it’s night time. If you can run your car, run it just enough to keep the heat on and stay warm, but make sure your exhaust pipe is clear.

Fourth, practice driving in cold weather. Rehearse handling your car on ice or snow in a local parking lot. Also, remember to always steer into a skid to avoid losing complete control of your auto. Always remember what your brakes will do; anti-lock brakes? stomp on them, non-anti lock? Pump them.

Lastly, keep in mind that stopping distances are much longer on water-covered snow and ice.

Protect Yourself:

Make sure you buckle up and secure your children in the appropriate child safety seats. Also, never place an infant seat that is rear-facing in the front seat of a car equipped with a front passenger air-bag. Lastly, Children 12 and under are always safest in the back seat.

Prevent Crashes:

It’s Christmas Party season, so if you’re going to drink, make sure you have a designated driver. You don’t want to end up like this guy. Next, slow down your speed on all roadways and give yourself a little extra distance between autos. Lastly, keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians walking in the roadway – especially downtown…… they’re everywhere.

If you keep these tips in mind, you and your loved ones should have a safe and happy Christmas Season.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.

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