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Winter weather can result in increased risk of a serious crash

Once the roads get covered in white, fluffy snow, there are a host of seasonal dangers drivers need to worry about. The long, dark and cold winter months impact both the roads and the vehicle you drive, leaving you at risk of experiencing a crash or collision and potentially serious injuries.

All kinds of motor vehicle issues happen in the winter that aren't a concern the rest of the year. There's black ice, which happens when melt water or rain freezes on the road, creating a thin and invisible layer of ice that can result in loss of traction. You also have to worry about the potential for skidding off the road into a ditch.

Other drivers are also a risk in the winter months, as they may drive too fast for weather conditions. Thankfully, knowing about common risks in the winter can help you avoid them.

Slow down and leave earlier for work and other time-sensitive destinations

One of the best things you can do to reduce your risk for a winter weather-related traffic collision is to leave earlier whenever you get behind the wheel. Any time there is ice or snow on the roads, you need to reduce your overall speed to ensure you maintain control of your vehicle. If you don't budget extra time for your commute, the threat of being late to work could result in you speeding back up.

Add anywhere from an extra 20-50 percent to your drive time to ensure you can get where you're headed safely. That could mean leaving earlier and arriving before you need to, but it's always better to be a little early when arriving safely than to end up in an accident because you didn't want to be late.

Ideally, you should also start your vehicle five or ten minutes before you intend to drive. This allows the engine time to warm up and ensures you can use the heater to keep from shivering while you drive.

Leave extra room for stopping on slick roads

When the roads are icy or covered in snow, your vehicle will take longer to stop. Slippery surfaces reduce the traction of your tires, no matter how new they may be. Even snow tires will skid when conditions are icy enough. Whether you're stopping at an intersection or behind another vehicle, leave yourself plenty of space to slow down and come to a complete stop. Usually, drivers allow three or four seconds for stopping. In slick conditions, you want to double that. Having an eight-second space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you could be the difference between rear-ending someone and an uneventful commute.

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