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13 tips for driving in a whiteout



In many parts of the country, driving through wind and snow is just part of your average winter. However, it’s not every day that you end up in a whiteout.

Drivers are often caught off guard when snow blows over roads and visibility becomes virtually non-existent. If weather conditions are bad enough, make an executive decision to stay home.

But if you absolutely must go out—or if the conditions aren’t bad enough to justify staying at home—follow these tips to help you reach your destination safely.

  1. Slow down. Speed ​​limits are set for summer conditions, when snow and ice are not a problem. (Check out our full list of don̵
    7;ts.) If you’re driving in a whiteout, drive slowly. Also, check your speedometer regularly – without visual cues passing, it’s easy to speed up without realizing it after a while.
  2. Avoid abrupt acceleration, braking and steering. Drive carefully and cautiously to avoid slipping and sliding on the road. Also, avoid jerking the wheel – overcorrecting can cause you to end up in a turn. Instead, smoothly steer your car where you want it to go.
  3. Do not use the tailgate.This is important at any time, but especially when driving in a whiteout. Leave more space than you normally would between your car and the car in front of you.
  4. Avoid changing lanes or passing other drivers. Reduced visibility makes it difficult to see when someone else has the same idea.
  5. Avoid using cruise control. Hitting the brakes to turn off the cruise control can cause your tires to lose grip. If you need to slow down, take your foot off the accelerator and let your car slow down gradually.
  6. Look beyond the car in front of you. It’s easy to lock your gaze on the taillights in front of you. It is better to look further ahead.
  7. Turn on your fog lights or low beams. Low light is a better choice than full light because there is less bounce back from ice particles in the air.
  8. Defrost your windows. Activate the defroster for the front and rear windows. It’s best not to press the recirculation button – doing so will tend to make your windows fog up more due to the increased moisture in the air.
  9. Reduce distractions. Beyond the obvious ones like refraining from texting while driving, consider turning off the radio, not eating or smoking, and putting all conversations on pause so you can really focus on the road. (The only exception: setting weather reports.)
  10. Be prepared to redirect. If a weather report says a certain area is closed or backed up, change your course. The advertiser often provides an alternative route.
  11. Watch out for black ice. It is extremely slippery and dangerous – so make sure you know how to spot it and how to handle driving on it.
  12. Drag over. If the conditions are so bad that you cannot see the roads, turn on your four-way indicators and park in a safe place off the road. Avoid pulling over to the side of the road unless it’s an absolute emergency, as it can create a dangerous situation for you and other drivers.
  13. Prepare an emergency kit. Should you get stuck, be sure to prepare a kit of essentials that can be kept in your car year-round.

Be prepared with the right auto coverage

When the snow settles and you find your car under a few extra feet of snow, ERIE’s Emergency Roadside Coverage can help cover the cost of towing your vehicle so you can get back on the road. Contact your local Erie Insurance agent to review your coverage, or get a quote today.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home office: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York). The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to do business in all states. See the company’s licensing and business information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are effective as of July 2022 and are subject to change at any time.

Insurance products are subject to conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions.

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states. ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York. ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York. ERIE long-term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York.

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based on applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer any questions you may have before you buy.


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