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Winter driving tips for Belgrade residents

The calendar may insist it is still fall, but there is no doubt that wintry weather has descended upon Belgrade. With such a long season of cold, ice and snow ahead, it is important to always drive safely when you are behind the wheel.

Research studies by AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that over 2,000 traffic fatalities occur every year that are attributed to poor road conditions and winter snowstorms. Of course, auto accidents can and do happen during all seasons of the year. But it is particularly wise to exercise caution when winter weather conditions prevail. Below are some driving tips from AAA that Belgrade drivers may find useful this winter.

Be prepared to get stranded

Stow away some cold-weather gear in your automobile. Include blankets, warm clothes, food and water, prescription medication, flashlight, and windshield scraper.

Service your vehicle

If you haven't already done so, replace any worn tires and see that they are inflated according to the manufacturers' recommendations. Don't drive on less than a half-tank of fuel in winter weather conditions. Avoid using cruise control when driving on ice or snow.

Plan your route

While it may be safer to curl up by the fireside at home when the roads turn icy, your daily obligations likely won't allow this to occur. So, do the next best thing: Plan your route accordingly. Choose cleared interstates and surface streets that have already been plowed and/or salted or sanded.

Drive slower and accelerate and brake slowly to gain traction and reduce the likelihood of skidding. Allow additional space between your front bumper and the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead of you.

Never stop on icy hills

Understand that the laws of physics take over when cars stop on ice-covered slopes. You will slide back down and can collide with cars behind you as well as those in other lanes.

Notify others of travel plans

If you must drive in inclement weather, make sure that you notify a friend or relative of your intended travel plans, including your destination, route and ETA. Should you wind up stranded in a snowdrift, remain with your automobile. It's easier for rescuers to find a vehicle in a snowstorm than a lost individual. Your car or truck also provides you shelter in a snowstorm.

To remain visible to would-be rescuers, tie something colorful to the antenna — a red bandana or a yellow strip of caution tape. No antenna? Attach it at the top of your rolled-up window to signal distress.

Always make sure that your vehicle's exhaust pipe doesn't get clogged with ice, snow or other road debris. That will allow you to run your heater for at least 10 minutes each hour that you remain stranded without worrying that deadly carbon monoxide fumes will infiltrate the passenger compartment of your car or truck.

Beware of winter wrecks

If you wind up injured in a car accident this winter, you will need to take action to hold the at-fault driver liable for your injuries and other damages.

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Ramler Law Office, P.C.
202 West Madison Avenue
Belgrade, MT 59714

Phone: 406-924-4810
Fax: 406-388-6842
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