Poor weather-related driving conditions are associated with 7,000 fatalities, 800,000 injuries, and more than 1.5 million vehicular crashes annually in the United States.1 And according to insurance agents such as Jason Beever, owner of Chalmers Insurance Group’s C.E. Carll Agency in Gorham, Maine, there are more auto insurance claims during the cold weather months than during any other time of the year.
“The increase in (winter) claims is undoubtedly from road conditions,” states Beever. “We see more claims early in winter because people are used to driving in the summer.”
Is It the Drivers or the Weather?
While driving performance doesn’t necessarily decline during bad weather, questionable driving habits such as speeding, taking turns too quickly and following other vehicles too closely are much riskier when inclement weather is involved.
“It stands to reason that human error in combination with hazardous road conditions leads to more collisions. Plus, heavy snow can bring down trees and power lines, which can lead to comprehensive claims,” adds Beever.
Winter Driving Tips
To stay safe during the hazardous winter months, consider the following recommendations:
- Be sure your vehicle is ready for winter. Have a qualified mechanic check your battery, anti-freeze, brakes, headlights and other critical systems.
- Buy winter tires. Or, at the very least, make sure the ones you are riding on are in good condition and are properly inflated.
- Avoid unnecessary travel. If you must be on the road, slow down and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Be aware and be cautious at all times. Black ice and other hazardous conditions can spring up without warning. And while you may be prepared, other drivers may not be.
You May Need an Auto Insurance Checkup
Harsh winter weather can increase the chances you’ll need to make an auto insurance claim. If you haven’t reviewed your auto insurance policy in at least a year, you’re due for a checkup. Speak with an insurance professional and make sure your coverage types, limits and deductibles are still appropriate for your personal financial situation.
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1National Research Council. Where the Weather Meets the Road. Washington, DC: National Academies Press
2Effects of Snowfalls on Motor Vehicle Collisions, Injuries, and Fatalities. Daniel Eisenberg, PhD and Kenneth E. Warner, PhD., American Journal of Public Health 2005