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Rainy Conditions
Nearly one million vehicle accidents happen each year in wet weather, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Many rainy-day wrecks are caused by motorists failing to appreciate the vast difference between driving in wet and dry conditions.

NW Insurance Council offers these tips to help residents protect lives and property:

  • Slow down. As your speed decreases, the tire footprint (the amount of the tire’s tread contacting the road surface) increases, providing better traction. You also reduce the risk of hydroplaning should you run into deeper water puddles on the road.
  • Maintain a safe distance. Even with a good wet-weather tire, be prepared for longer stopping distances on wet pavement.
  • Choose tires carefully. For optimum performance in the rain, select a tire with tread design and rubber compounds that provide enhanced wet-weather driving capabilities.
  • Properly maintain your tires. No tire can provide good wet traction once the tread is worn below 2/32nd’s of an inch tread depth. Check your tires regularly and replace them at the proper time. One way to check the depth of your tires is to place a penny (Lincoln’s head down) in the tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s hair, it’s time to change your tires. Maintain the proper air pressure in your tires; check your vehicle manufacturer handbook.
  • Check your wipers. Install new wiper blades at least once a year to ensure good vision.
  • Avoid hydroplaning. If you feel your vehicle starting to hydroplane, take your foot off the accelerator – don’t hit your brakes. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch and let the vehicle slow down until control is regained.
  • Turn on your lights. During daylight hours, they may not help you see better, but it will help other drivers see you.

Snowy Conditions
Winter driving presents a number of challenges for commuters. Unlike rain, snow can affect visibility and blanket the road, making it difficult to know where you're driving.

You can dramatically reduce your chances of an accident by following some basic safety tips and, if you do slide off the road, having towing coverage is one of the best peace-of-mind investments you can make.

Most Auto Insurance policies do not automatically cover towing. Towing Coverage is usually available for $5 to $10 per year and also covers towing for other hazards such as vehicle breakdown. It usually pays your towing bill up to a specified amount such as $50 or $100.

The NW Insurance Council offers these tips to help you and your family make it safely to your destination:

  • Before your commute, know the current road conditions and the forecast for your route and destination.
  • Allow more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • If you start to slide, pump your brakes gently and steer in the direction of the slide.
  • Avoid sudden acceleration. If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump your brakes. Instead press firmly on the brake pedal and hold it down, allowing the anti-lock mechanism to work.
  • Stay on main roads as much as possible. In case of an emergency, you have a better chance of getting help on a main route.
  • Keep an emergency winter driving kit in your car. The kit should include blankets, water, high-energy snacks, highway warning devices, flares, flashlights and batteries.
  • If you are involved in an auto accident, get the other driver's information - driver's license and vehicle license numbers, insurance company name and policy number and both work and home phone numbers.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible so that claims adjusters can begin processing your claim right away. If you don't have towing coverage, consider adding it for the next time a snowstorm hits your area.

Car Accidents
If you’ve had a wreck, the good news is that there are steps you can take to control what happens afterward.

“Knowing what to do immediately following an accident and preparing ahead of time can reduce stress and save vehicle owners time and money,” said Karl Newman, president of the NW Insurance Council. “Drivers also can take a lot of the headache out of being involved in an auto accident with some advance planning.”

If you're involved in an automobile accident, NW Insurance Council offers the following tips to help you handle the situation effectively:

Immediately following an accident:

  • If anyone is injured, call for medical assistance immediately. Provide basic first aid, but don’t move an injured person.
  • Wait for professional medical help. Take reasonable steps to prevent further damage to your car such as setting up flares, getting the car off the road and calling a tow truck. Call the police or highway patrol and wait for them at the accident scene.
  • Write down these key facts: All other drivers’ license and vehicle license plate numbers; other drivers’ insurance company name, policy number, agent phone number. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all drivers and passengers. Witnesses' names, addresses and phone numbers.
  • Take photos (from several angles) of the vehicles and the accident scene. Be sure to photograph the license plate of the other vehicle(s).
  • Make a rough sketch of the accident scene and note details of the accident such as time of day, road and weather conditions, street names and direction and speed of travel.
  • Call your insurance company to report the accident within 24 hours.
  • Get a copy of the police report.
  • Keep copies of all documents related to the accident.

Filing a claim

  • Contact your insurance agent or company immediately. Ask the representative what documents are needed to support your claim.
  • Keep records of your expenses related to the accident. These expenses may be reimbursable under your policy.
  • Maintain copies of all your paperwork, including the police report and repair estimates.

Before an accident:

  • Keep a notebook and pen in the glove compartment to help you record important information about the accident. You also may want to include an inexpensive “throwaway” camera.
  • Keep the claim reporting phone number for your insurance company in your wallet or purse.
  • Always carry your vehicle registration and insurance card.
  • If you are allergic to certain medicines or require special medical attention, keep a medical alert card with you at all times – whether you are the driver or a passenger.