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Stay safe when driving in snowy conditions

For those of us who live in the northeast portion of the United States, winter driving can be a real nightmare. While not located entirely in the northeast, 70 percent of the nation's population live in states with snowfall levels of more than five inches a season. An additional 70 percent of the highways are also found in locations with snowfalls greater than five inches a year.

That can result in a high incidence of weather-related mayhem on the highways during the winter months. Nationally, 116,000 injuries occur each year on roads that are covered by ice, slush or snow. Another 1,300 traffic deaths are reported on snow-covered roads during the same 12-month period.

Also, all snow is not created equally when it comes to driving conditions. Wetter, heavier snow can allow for better traction for vehicle tires than the dry powdery stuff that turns highways into bumper-car rinks.

Driving in snowy conditions can lower a vehicle's visibility to other drivers on the road, which is why it's doubly important to make sure that your headlights are in good working order and turned on even during daylight hours in a snow or ice storm.

There are some must-haves that drivers should carry with them during the winter months. They include:

-- An ice scraper/snow brush to clear off windows

-- A set of jumper cables

-- Rock salt or its chemical equivalent for traction

-- A flashlight with fresh batteries

-- Extra gear (gloves, scarves, jacket, boots and hat) for emergencies

-- Tow strap or come-along for pulling cars out of ditches

If the wintry weather causes you to be injured in an accident this year, if another driver was at fault, you may be able to recoup some of your financial losses by filing a claim for damages.

Source: Bestride.com, "Ultimate Winter Driving Guide," accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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