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7 Tips for avoiding car accidents during bad weather conditions

Being behind the wheel of a vehicle comes with its own set of responsibilities. The importance of these responsibilities grows more intense as weather conditions worsen. As we continue into the winter months we must prepare for slower commutes, snowy roads, and more irritable drivers. Since Denver is known for its extreme weather changes, consider the following tips to staying safe this winter:

1. Slow down

Getting used to a slower pace of traffic can be maddening, especially when it means your commute to-and-from work become longer. Luckily, you are not the only one feeling this way. Chances are everyone else who is stuck in the parade of slow moving cars is anxious and likely just as irritated as you. Unfortunately, being in a hurry is only going to create more problems. The weather doesn't care if you're going to be late so you shouldn't either. It's far better to arrive a little late than to arrive way late or not at all because you were in an accident.

2. Keep your headlights on

Even vehicles with automatic headlights aren't the most efficient when they need to be. Just because it's not dark outside doesn't mean your headlights shouldn't be on. Turn your headlights on if it is snowing, raining or otherwise feels necessary. It's better to err on the side of too much light than not enough.

Important: Having enough light on the road does not include keeping your hi-beams on. Hi-beams can be very distracting to other drivers. Only use your hi-beams when other cars are not present.

3. Windshield wiper safety

The integrity of your windshield wipers is an easy thing to overlook. It's usually not until you're in the thick of a snow or rainstorm that you realize they need replacing. For best safety practices, windshield wipers should be replaced once a year. They are pretty inexpensive and fairly easy to change.

Don't forget the wiper fluid! After a snowstorm, roads can be lined with salt and sand, which build up quickly on your windshield.

Important rule of thumb: Anytime your windshield wipers are running, your headlights should also be on.

4. Leave extra space between cars

Leave at least two or three car lengths between you and the car ahead of you. If the person in front of you abruptly hits their breaks, this should give you enough time to break safely as well. We cannot anticipate the actions of other drivers, so give yourself enough room to react.

5. Tire safety

Have your tires been checked lately? Typically tires have a pretty decent life span, so it's easy to forget how long you've had them or when the last time is they were checked. The amount of tread on your tires determines how well your vehicle will grip the road. Next time you get an oil change or bring your car in for service, make sure and ask them to check your tires.

6. Don't break while turning

If ice is present, do not hit your breaks during a turn. Hitting your breaks while turning with ice on the road can easily cause you to spin out of control. If ice is present on the road, traffic should already be slowed. Approach your turn slowly and use your steering wheel to successfully navigate your turn, not your break.

7. Put your cellphone away

This is the last tip but also one of the most important ones. Cellphones are already known to be a major distraction for drivers and the use of them while driving should be limited as is. Plan your routes ahead of time, set your navigation up before you begin driving, utilize hands-free options if your vehicle is equipped, and always wait to text until you've reached your destination. If you're looking at your phone that means you're not focusing on the road.

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