There's good news and bad news for weather-conscious drivers in New York
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, which has been forecasting the
state's weather since around 1792, winter temperatures are going to be
"much above normal", while snowfall will be below normal.
On the other hand, there's going to be more rain about, plus some severe
cold snaps at the end of January and early February.
Much as we don't wish to challenge such an august body of forecasters, we
all know that the weather can throw a few surprise bad pitches at almost
Across the nation, there are more than half a million road crashes and
2,000 fatalities every winter.
So, although winter doesn’t officially start until December 21, now is the
time to be thinking about safe winter driving. In fact, now is the best time to do that, so you're prepared for whatever Nature has
to throw at you.
Here's our list of the most important actions you can take to stay safe on
our highways through the winter.
Prepare Your Car
- Run through a checklist of your car's winter readiness. That includes
checking lights, brakes, tires, battery, wipers, coolant, anti-freeze,
defrosters, heater. Checking lights doesn’t just mean ensuring they work;
you should clean your headlights before every trip. Same goes for windows,
your external mirrors and rear camera if you have one.
- If you have any doubts at all about your car's road worthiness, have it
properly checked by a qualified engineer.
- Do you need to switch to winter tires? That depends on where you plan to
drive, and how much. All-season tires may be suitable for local runs but
experts say they can take up to 40 percent longer to stop in severe
- After driving in particularly bad snow and ice, check that your muffler
exhaust pipe isn't blocked.
- Check your car's manual for any specific instructions about winter
driving. This is especially important if you have an electric vehicle. For
example, most EV manufacturers recommend pre-heating the inside of the car
before you unplug.
- Take extra clothing and other emergency supplies on your journey. Always
take your phone, making sure it's fully charged, plus a flashlight, jumper
cables, emergency warning signs -- and some kitty litter to give you
- Don't warm up your car in the garage or other enclosed space. It can lead
to breathing difficulties.
- Always check the weather forecast and road reports before starting out on
a journey, especially a long one. Plan your route in advance. If the
outlook is bad and your journey is unnecessary, don't go. If it is vital,
then set off early.
- Check in with New York's 511NY service, which provides access to 1,000
live traffic cameras and a roadmap of roadworks and blockages. Call 511,
visit https://www.511ny.org/ or
download the mobile app for iOS or Android.
- If you're heading for an unusual destination, ensure people know where
you're going and when you plan to arrive.
- If you get stuck in snow, stay with your vehicle says AAA. "Your vehicle
provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.
Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your
vehicle in blowing snow and become lost."
- If you're not familiar with a car -- for example if it's new or a rental
-- get to know it properly by reading the manual and running the tests
- Don't drive if you're tired or if you’ve consumed intoxicants.
- Unfortunately, you can't count on others to be as careful and courteous
as you. Be on the alert for them and allow extra space between your car and
the vehicle in front. While the normal following distance is about four
seconds, you should at least double that number in bad weather.
- When road conditions are bad and traffic slows, people are apt to get
impatient and intolerant. Don’t be one of those people. Impatience leads to
mistakes. And road-rage leads to the courtroom.
- Mornings and afternoons are darker, but there'll be almost as many
pedestrians as normal out and about. And they won’t all be wearing bright,
easy-to-spot clothing. Keep your eyes peeled, especially near schools,
parks and other public places.
- It's a good idea to keep your car fueled up -- with at least half a tank
at all times -- so you don’t run out of gas if you're stuck in your for an
- Know how to drive out of a skid. How you react depends on whether you
have front or rear wheel drive. With a front-wheel skid, take your foot off
the gas and apply the brakes gently. With a rear-wheel incident, steer in
the direction of the skid, and accelerate ever-so-slightly.
- When driving uphill on an icy road, don’t hit the gas too hard. That will
just make the wheels spin. On the other hand, don’t stop on a hill unless
- Respect snowplows! Last winter, they plowed 13 million miles of road in
our state. They're doing a vital job, so don’t drive too close -- your car
might be damaged by the grit. Overtake only with extreme caution and if the
passing road surface is suitable to drive on, which often it is not.
- Don’t use cruise control in hostile weather. You might not be able to
react fast enough to a sudden hazard.
- In poor visibility and heavy rain, slow down and, if necessary, stop and
Just in Case
There are more road accidents in New York during the winter months than at
any other time of the year, especially around the Holidays.
Even if you practice the safest driving techniques, that doesn't guarantee
you won’t get snarled either by impossibly icy conditions or the mistakes
Even if an accident isn’t your fault, the other driver may not have
But you can protect yourself against the risks we face on our wintry roads
with a good auto insurance policy. Why not get in touch to discuss your
Drive carefully and have a safe winter on our roads.