Thanksgiving will be later this month, which is the start of the holiday season. Temperatures also begin to drop in November, making snow and ice likely in New York City. The following tips will help you deal with both situations.


Holiday Safety Tips

  • Thanksgiving marks the beginning of holiday traffic, when approximately 100,000 additional vehicles begin to enter New York City daily.
  • Be patient, courteous and considerate of all motorists to reduce the chances of being a victim of road rage.
  • Remember that the person driving next to you may park their vehicle in a garage and could then be a potential customer.
  • Remember that tourism boosts the city’s economy, so show out-of-towners how much you appreciate them by presenting a helpful and positive image.
  • Plan to have your holiday dinner at the end of your work shift. Eating a large dinner may make you drowsy. Drowsy driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
  • Remember that New York City Traffic Department agents now have the authority to issue summonses for “Blocking the Box.”
  • Remember that there will be an increase of DWI drivers during the Holiday Season. Be prepared to use your defensive driving skills.


Holiday Parties

  • Holiday parties cause an increase in the number of drivers under the influence of alcohol. Use extra caution during the holiday season.
  • Holiday parties mean that many people who have been drinking will wisely take a taxi or black car, rather than driving drunk – which would be a serious danger to all drivers and pedestrians in the city. Be prepared to be more patient with intoxicated passengers; they are doing the right thing by hiring you for a ride.
  • Passengers are sometimes depressed during the holiday season for personal reasons. Spreading joy to such passengers will make you feel good and help the passenger.


Driving on Snow and Ice: Safety Tips From Mac Demere

The best tip for winter driving: Sometimes it’s best to stay home, or at least remain where you are until snow plows and sanding crews have done their work. If you crash on a snowy or icy road, you’ll certainly be late – or worse. But since you can’t always call in to work claiming a “snow day,” it’s better to learn how to correctly deal with driving in the snow.


I’ve battled snow- and ice-covered highways in two-dozen states behind the wheel of both passenger vehicles and 18-wheelers. I’ve performed hundreds of tire tests on snow-covered roads, attended snow-driving schools and done precision driving in the snow for videos and still photos. From this experience, here are some driving tips the average driver can follow to reduce the chances of a crash.

  • Get a grip. To have adequate snow traction, a tire requires at least 6/32-inch deep tread, according to The Tire Rack. (New passenger-car tires usually have 10/32-inch of tread.) Ultrahigh-performance “summer” tires have little or no grip in snow. Even “all-season” tires don’t necessarily have great snow traction… some do, some don’t. If you live where the roads are regularly covered with snow, use snow (or winter) tires. They have a “snowflake on the mountain” symbol on the sidewall, meaning they meet a tire-industry standard for snow traction.
  • Make sure you can see. Replace windshield wiper blades. Clean the inside of your windows thoroughly. Apply a water-shedding material (such as Rain-X) to the outside of all windows, including the mirrors. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid. Drain older fluid by running the washers until new fluid appears. Switching fluid colors makes this easy.
  • Run the air-conditioner. In order to remove condensation and frost from the interior of windows, engage your air-conditioner and select the fresh air option. It’s fine to set the temperature on “hot.” Many cars automatically do this when you select defrost.
  • Check your lights. Use your headlights so that others will see you and hopefully not pull out in front of you. Make sure your headlights and taillights are clear of snow. If you have an older car with sand-pitted headlights, get a new set of lenses. To prevent future pitting, cover the new lens with the kind of clear tape used to protect the leading edge of helicopter rotor blades and racecar wings. It’s available from auto-racing supply sites.
  • Give yourself a brake. Learn how to get maximum efficiency from your brakes before an emergency. It’s easy to properly use an antilock braking system (ABS): Stomp, stay and steer. Stomp on the pedal as if you were trying to snap it off. Stay hard on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle. (Warning: A little bit of steering goes a long way in an emergency.) If you drive on icy roads or roads that are covered with snow, modify your ABS technique. After you “stomp” and the ABS begins cycling, you will feel pulses in the pedal or hear the system working. At that point, ease up slightly on the pedal until the pulsing occurs only once a second.
  • Watch out for “black ice.” If the road looks slick, it probably is. This is especially true with one of winter’s worst hazards: black ice. This is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Test the traction with a smooth brake application or slight turn of the wheel.
  • Remember the tough spots. Race drivers must memorize the nuances of every track, so they can alter their path for changing track conditions. You must remember where icy roads tend to occur. Bridges and intersections are common places. Also: wherever water runs across the road.
  • Too much steering is bad. If a slick section in a turn causes your front tires to lose grip, the common – but incorrect – reaction is to continue turning the steering wheel. That won’t improve the situation and may make things worse. If the icy conditions end and the front tires regain grip, your car will dart whichever way the wheels are pointed. That may be into oncoming traffic or a telephone pole. Something very similar happens if you steer too much while braking with ABS. Sadly, there are situations when nothing will prevent a crash, but turning the steering too much never helps.
  • Avoid rear-tire slides. First, choose a car with electronic stability control. ESC is mandatory on all 2012 and newer models. Make sure your rear tires have at least as much tread as your front tires. If you buy winter tires, get four.
  • Technology offers no miracles. All-wheel drive and electronic stability control can get you into trouble by offering a false sense of security. AWD can only help a vehicle accelerate or keep moving: It can’t help you go around a snow-covered turn, much less stop at an icy intersection. ESC can prevent a spinout, but it can’t clear ice from roads or give your tires more traction. Don’t let these features lull you into overestimating the available traction.


Regardless of your driving skill or vehicle preparation, there are some winter conditions that can’t be conquered. But these tips may help prevent snowy and icy roads from ruining your day.


Emergency Survival Kit

It’s that time of year to keep an emergency survival kit in your vehicle, just in case you get stranded for some reason. Your kit should include the following:

  • Several warm blankets
  • Small shovel and sand (or kitty litter)
  • Safety flares
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Red flag (or cloth)
  • Warm socks
  • Extra pair of gloves (or mittens)
  • Warm hat (or cap)
  • Several old sweaters or warm shirts
  • Spare ice scraper
  • Several chocolate or high-energy food bars


Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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