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Winter can be a beautiful time of year but it can also be a dangerous one. The snow and ice of this frosty season can make roads slippery, obscure drivers' vision, and damage the condition of your car. With over 70 percent of roadways in the United States subject to snow and other winter conditions, everyone can benefit from knowing how to drive safely during this season. Let's take a look at some of the most important driving tips to stay safe this winter.

Stay Further Away From Other Cars

One of the best pieces of advice for driving in the winter is to leave ample room between yourself and other cars on the road. While you may be able to creep up behind other cars in the warmer months and still have plenty of time to break, winter weather conditions don't allow for that. Weather is a factor in about 21 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the United States and winter brings some of the most dangerous conditions of any season.

If you encounter a dangerous patch of road, such as one covered in black ice, snow, or damaged surfaces, you need enough space to maintain or regain control of your car. Without that space, you run the risk of going right into the car in front of you after losing control on ice or snow. Giving yourself more space will also help put distance between you and other drivers who may not be as cautious. If someone is following you a little too closely, take the time to safely pull off to the side of the road and let them go by so that you can continue on your safe journey.

Practice Proper Vehicle Maintenance

The harsh conditions of winter will put a strain on your vehicle. Whether you drive a truck, car, or SUV, make sure that you've gone through your maintenance checklist so that it can better stand up to wintery elements. First, make sure that your car battery is in good condition. If your battery fails, you can be left stranded in the cold.

Another important car part to check is the tires. There are about six million car accidents every year in the United States and many of them occur because of tires that aren't in great condition. During the winter, air pressure becomes one of the most important aspects of your tires. The air pressure in tires goes down when the temperature falls below 32 degrees, causing them to deflate. This deflation can cause you to spin out and get into an accident. Check your tire pressure on a weekly basis during the winter, especially if your area experiences freezing temperatures throughout the winter.

Know What to Do if You Start Skidding

No one wants to lose control of their car when driving in the winter, but it can happen to even the best of drivers. If you start to skid or spin out, you can steer your way out of trouble. Try not to panic, look for an escape route, and steer towards it. Keep your eyes on where you want your car to go rather than the obstacle you're trying to avoid. If you have a safe, open space where you can practice steering yourself out of a skid, do so. You'll then be better prepared to handle it if it happens to you when you're on the road.

Never Drive While Under the Influence

This is an important safety tip no matter what time of year you're driving, but it bears repeating when the holiday season brings alcohol-filled parties and wintery weather. Drinking impairs your judgment and reaction times, both of which are essential when driving in the winter. If you drive after drinking, you may not remember to drive more slowly and carefully than you normally do and you won't have the proper reflexes to regain control of your car if you start sliding on ice or snow.

Drinking and driving in the winter puts your life on the line as well as those of other drivers on the road. You can also face legal repercussions if you get pulled over. If your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit, you may get sent to jail and then you'll have to spend money on bail or time contacting a bail bond company for your release. A DUI charge will stay on your record and you could even get your license revoked. Avoid this myriad of repercussions and keep everyone safe by always having a designated driver or relying on rideshare services to get home.

These are just a few of many safety tips for winter driving. Use these tips to stay safe this winter and when in doubt, stay home. You'll keep yourself safe and you won't endanger anyone else who may be on the road.

Photo by skpy/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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