Winter seems to be coming early this year. The winter months can be snowy and icy, but did you know that the wintry weather leads to around 5,000 crashes annually across the state? Now is the best time to prepare vehicles for the upcoming conditions.

One of the most important things to do during the winter is to check the road conditions before you leave home. If the conditions aren’t good, only leave home for necessities. Minimizing the time you are on the road reduces the odds that you will be in a crash.

Prepare your vehicle for the drive

Your car needs to be ready for the road. Make sure that there is ample tread on the tires so they can grip the roadway. Check the brakes to ensure they are in good shape. Before you leave the driveway or parking spot, clear all the snow and ice from lights and windows so you can see clearly.

Plan your route carefully

The route you take is important. Even roads that are usually cleared might be in rough shape, especially if the precipitation has just started falling.

You can’t try to rush when you are on snowy or icy roads. It is best to leave a little earlier than you would normally leave and arrive early than to try to rush and end up in a crash.

Leave room while you drive

The stopping distance for vehicles is greater when there is snow on the ground. Be sure to leave extra distance for you to stop, and remember that other vehicles might take longer to start moving and speed up. You should also leave ample space for snowplows and salt trucks because they often need extra space to do their duties.

When crashes happen

If you are involved in a car wreck on snowy roads, try to remain in your vehicle if it is safe to do so. This provides a layer of protection between you and other vehicles that might lose control and slam into you.

Be sure to call the police to come out for an accident report, and request medical assistance if you are injured. Because the response time may take longer in snowy weather, keep boots, blankets and warm gear in the vehicle at all times so you stay warm while waiting especially if the vehicle will not start.