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How to drive safely in dangerous New Jersey winter weather

Regardless of the time of year, taking to the road in New Jersey can be stressful and dangerous at times. Even when weather conditions are ideal, there's always a chance you could be part of an accident. This is a sad and sobering fact of being on the roads as statistics grimly show every time we turn on the news or read the paper.

Your risk of an accident increases when the weather takes a turn for the worse. During the winter months, it's common to find yourself contending with snow, ice, rain, sleet and strong winds.

In addition to every decision you make as a driver, you must be mindful and have "eyes all over your head" as you pay attention to others sharing the roads . You must account for the fact that they could make a mistake as well.

Here are five steps you can take to drive more safely in winter weather:

  • Slow down: You don't want to drive so slowly that you impede the progress of other vehicles, but it's important to watch your speed. The faster you drive in inclement weather, such as snow, the more likely it is that you'll lose control of your vehicle.
  • Watch how you slow your vehicle: One thing you want to avoid in winter weather is attempting to abruptly stop your vehicle. If you slam your brakes, for example, you could fishtail or lose control.
  • Leave a greater following distance: It takes longer to stop in wet weather, so you need to leave more space between other vehicles. If you typically leave four seconds of space in dry conditions, double this just to be safe.
  • Don't slow down: If you're moving slowly on a snow-covered road, keep your speed, if at all possible, to avoid slowing down and getting stuck.
  • Stay at home until conditions improve: The only surefire way to prevent an accident is to avoid the roads altogether. When you wait for conditions to improve, you'll feel better about your safety.

Even as you do these things, you'll look around and realize that some drivers aren't changing their style. They continue to drive as if the road is dry, which increases the risk of causing an accident.

If a negligent driver strikes your vehicle, move to the side of the road, check yourself for injuries and call for help. After you receive a medical diagnosis and treatment, you can file an insurance claim and take steps to protect your legal rights.

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