Safety tips can help bus drivers handle winter driving dangers

As snowstorms grip parts of the country, Lancer Insurance Company is offering some safety strategies to help motorcoach drivers steer clear of the dangers of winter driving.

Avoiding on-the-road problems in winter starts long before drivers get behind the wheel. 

Lancer recommends that drivers only drive when they are physically rested and mentally alert,  because fatigue limits a driver’s ability to focus on driving and slows reaction time.

Other pre-driving tips include doing a thorough pre-trip inspection and continuing to check the vehicle along the way. The defroster and radiator are especially important to monitor this time of year. 

Map out the destination. Have alternate routes planned, and allow extra time to reach the destination.

Check the weather forecast. Do this before heading out and frequently along the way, as conditions can change often. Local radio stations and online tools such as Accuweather, the National Weather Service and state Department of Transportation websites can provide invaluable information on the latest weather and road conditions.

A storm survival kit. This should contain, at a minimum, a cell phone and charger, a flashlight with batteries, a first aid kit, extra clothing, a blanket, non-perishable food, bottled water, a windshield scraper/brush, lock de-icer, a small shovel and prescription medications. 

Once on the road, Lancer says these defensive driving strategies are particularly important.

Visibility is crucial. Keep the low beam headlights on to see and be seen in wet and wintry conditions. When necessary, stop in a safe location to clear snow and ice from headlights, taillights and reflectors. Beware of other drivers who are not using their headlights. Use windshield wipers and the defroster to maximize visibility.

Pay attention to speed. Slow down on wet, snow-covered or icy roads, even if they have been sanded or salted. The posted speed is the maximum speed under ideal conditions. In adverse weather, a driver can be cited for, or worse yet, cause an accident when traveling too fast for conditions. A slower speed provides more time to react to hazards. Also, avoid using cruise control in snow, ice or rain, as it could cause loss of control of the vehicle.

Increase the distance. The distance between a driver’s vehicle and those around it should safely match weather and road conditions, visibility and traffic. This extra space is necessary if a vehicle begins to skid or has to make a stop.

Gradual changes. Sudden starting, stopping, turning, merging or changing lanes, speeding up or slowing down can quickly cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Use your directional signals to give ample warning to other drivers whenever you are turning or changing lanes.

Be observant. Recognize hazards early by keeping your attention on the road. Watch for shaded areas, bridges and overpasses that can freeze much sooner than the rest of the roadway and stay frozen long after the sun has risen. Keep an eye out for snowplows and give equipment operators plenty of room to work.

Stay alert. Watch for changes in a road’s surface that may affect traction. Remember that ice and snow are most dangerous when the temperature is at or near the freezing mark. If conditions become severe, pull over to a safe and legal parking area as soon as possible and wait for conditions to improve.

Check out Lancer’s tips during severe weather in this blog.


Insurance experts offer advice as buses get back on the road

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