How to deal with winter car troubles

January 7, 2014 12:00 AM

No matter how much you brush up on your safe winter driving practices, there may come a time when you find yourself stuck in a precarious scenario. Whether you've been involved in a collision with another vehicle or have broken down in extreme temperatures, there are some things you should do to make the best out of a bad situation. 

Know your insurance information
You should have some kind of auto insurance card stashed in your glove compartment for emergencies, but knowing a few of the basics of your policy can't hurt, either. For example, knowing what your coverage entails can provide insight as to what you need to watch for following an accident. 

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department recommends alerting your insurance company immediately following an accident, so having a properly charged cellphone, as well as the provider's contact and account information, is extremely important. 

Document the accident 
Should there be any type of damage done to your car, you can benefit from documenting it. Use a cellphone or camera to take pictures of the situation, including areas where you may need auto repair, as well as potential harm done to the surrounding area. Even personal injuries should be documented in this format as a backup. However, you should not exit the vehicle if there is a chance of further harm, such as if you're stuck in a heavily trafficked area or a hidden spot where other motorists may not see you. 

Stay calm
If there's one thing that can really pay off, it's having a level head. You don't want to make any rash decisions, or lash out at another driver or your passengers, and that requires taking deep breaths and steering clear of anger. It's easy to get caught up in thinking about the worst-case scenario when faced with a collision, and that could lead to you saying something you regret. That, in turn, may only make the entire process more difficult and cause you to skip essential steps. 

Have an emergency kit
A serious accident could result in you being stranded until help arrives. That would be annoying during any time of the year, but if you add in winter weather, it can get dangerous. Having an emergency kit packed with the basics, such as spare tires, antifreeze, a tool kit and other essentials is important. You should also add a spare blanket, flashlight, reflective gear and water - especially for times when the temperatures are dropping and help could take a while to arrive. 

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