Do you know how to stay safer this winter while driving?

While some areas of the country are enjoying a mild winter, here in Rolla temperatures remain frosty. That makes it even more important to be mindful of the ever-present dangers of winter driving.

All it takes is one attempt at driving in near white-out or icy conditions to realize how quickly even familiar roads can turn into deadly environments. The below tips could keep you and your family safer this year.

Top off your gas tank

You never know when driving conditions could suddenly worsen and leave you stranded. Having enough fuel to intermittently run your engine if you get trapped in your car could save lives. Just remember to keep the vehicle's tailpipe clear of snow or other obstructions.

In bad weather, lower your speed

When road surfaces are slippery with ice, you want to avoid slamming on your brakes at all costs. Therefore, you should reduce speed and never follow the car ahead of you too closely, as that could cause a rear-end collision or even start a pile-up on the interstate.

Navigate carefully around snow plows

These large vehicles can't move fast or take swift evasive actions. They make frequent stops, take wide turns and sometimes straddle lanes. Don't ride in the lane next to them or close behind them. Give the operators plenty of room to do their jobs.

If you get stranded

You are always safer staying with your vehicle. A car or truck provides shelter and is far more visible to rescuers than a pedestrian stumbling through snow drifts. Make sure that you don't overexert yourself. Tie a brightly colored scarf to the antenna or hang it from a rolled-up window.

If you have to leave your vehicle due to a chain-reaction pile-up, walk in the direction away from the point of impact. But don't get out of sight of your vehicle. Once the collisions stop, you want to be able to get back to shelter.

If you are injured in a winter accident, filing a claim for damages will preserve your rights to seek redress.

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