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Winter driving. Are you ready?

By the end of November, many locations throughout Illinois are experiencing the accumulation of snow on the ground and yes, on the roadways. With the appearance of the slippery white stuff, it can be expected that car accidents are more likely to occur. While residents in Elgin know what to expect when winter arrives, it can take a while to acclimate to driving in the snow again.

Fortunately, the Illinois State Police have provided some tips to area residents and out-of-state visitors on how to avoid car accident that can dampen everyone's holiday festivities.

One of the many bits of advice provided by the state's safety education officer is to make sure drivers pack an emergency road kit. Some of the suggested contents include:

  • First aid kit,
  • Salt, sand or another type of material to provide traction under car tires
  • Jumper cables
  • Blankets
  • Non-perishable food
  • Ice scraper
  • Windshield washer fluid

Another suggestion encourages motorists to allow plenty of travel time. Allowing enough time to arrive to a destination provides a comfortable buffer in case any delays transpire. This is particularly important if the weather forecast predicts the possibility of snow or other forms of inclement weather.

Some other helpful hints include always driving with a full tank of gas, always wearing a seat belt and adjusting the vehicle's speed to match the road conditions. Sources show that many winter weather accidents occur because drivers are travelling too fast for conditions. By driving too fast, motorists are more likely to not allow enough distance between the vehicle in front of them - potentially causing a rear-end collision.

Additionally, the black ice on the roadways is not readily visible. A driver is less likely to lose control of his or her car if they are alert and paying attention to the changing conditions. Habits, such as distracted driving, can be even more dangerous when combined with slick roads. So, put away the cell phones until the vehicle is stopped.

While most drivers have heard these tips many times, it is helpful to provide a friendly reminder. Surprisingly, many motorists believe that an accident won't happen to them -- until it does.

Source: The Journal Standard, "State police caution defensive driving," Nick Crow, Nov. 19, 2012

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