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Prevent Accidents by Following Driving Rules and Taking Extra Care Behind the Wheel

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), the entire state of Missouri is experiencing an increase each year of fatal car crashes. The number has steadily risen since 2019, with a total of 972 deadly accidents in 2022 alone. Because winter driving in Kansas City - or anywhere for that matter - adds a level of increased risk, it’s important that car owners take responsibility and hold themselves accountable for safe driving practices. Follow these six tips to stay safe on the road this winter.

Slow Down on Slick Roads

Although it seems like Kansas Citians view the speed limit as optional, it’s best to follow it or drive even more slowly during winter conditions. In fact, experts suggest that you slow down by ⅓ of the speed limit for added winter driving safety. For example, if the speed limit is 30 miles per hour, drive 20 miles per hour. Driving slowly gives you more control of your vehicle, so you can keep traction on the road and reduce the risk of slipping, sliding, or hydroplaning. In the event that you lose control, the slower your car is already going, the better chance you have of successfully staying on the road and avoiding a collision.

man driving car

Never Slam on Your Brakes

When you’re driving on icy roads, never slam on your brakes, even if you’re approaching a red light or stop sign. Slamming on your brakes can make your vehicle start sliding, and once you start, it can be hard to stop. Instead, gradually remove your foot from the gas pedal and slowly depress your brake, pumping the pedal if you don’t have antilock brakes on your car. If you do have antilock brakes, you may feel a pulsing sensation in the pedal, plus a grinding noise. This means your ABS is activated, and it is perfectly normal for this to happen on slick roads when you press the brake pedal. Not sure if you have antilock brakes? Put your key in your car’s ignition and turn it to “on,” but don’t start it. You’ll see all the warning lights on your dashboard light up. If one of them says “ABS,” then your vehicle has antilock brakes.

Make Sure Your Tires Are in Good Condition Before Winter Driving in Kansas City

Your all-season tires that came on your used car in Kansas City can be perfectly safe for winter driving as long as they’re in good condition.You’ll need to check their overall condition, tread depth, and pressure. To check the tread depth, grab a penny and place it upside down in the tread - that is, Lincoln’s head down. If you can see the top of his head, then you need new tires. To check tire pressure, you need a tire pressure gauge and to wait until your car has been parked for at least three hours. Follow these steps:

  • Remove the valve stem cap and put it in your pocket where you can find it later.
  • Press the gauge head evenly onto the valve stem, until the hissing sound stops.
  • Remove the gauge and read the pressure.
  • Compare this reading to your tire’s recommended inflation pressure, which is usually listed on the tire sidewall.

Check the overall condition of your tires. Can you see any foreign objects lodged in your tires? Are there cracks forming in the side wall? Do you see any unusual lumps or bumps? If you answered yes to any of these, you may need new tires.

Drive Defensively

Winter driving in Kansas City requires a defensive approach to help keep you, your passengers, and your vehicle safe. Defensive driving is defined as safely responding to potential hazards on the road. Defensive driving uses techniques to reduce risks of crashing simply by expecting the unexpected. Defensive drivers are all about protecting themselves. They take their time and avoid aggressive driving or high speeds. They drive sober and keep safe following distances, never tailgating anyone, even if that person is driving very slowly. Defensive drivers scan for everything in their line of vision and pay attention to road hazards like potholes or debris. They never drive distracted, nor do they let other drivers’ road rage affect them.

Use Your Headlights When Your Windshield Wipers Are On

Not only do your car’s headlights help you see, but they also help other drivers see you. That’s one reason that Missouri law states that you must turn your headlights on any time you need to use your windshield wipers, as well as from sunset to sunrise. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study found that good headlights reduced crashes by 19%. We can take that a step farther to say that the best used cars for winter include those with quality headlights as defined by the IIHS. The best way to tell whether your vehicle’s headlights pass the IIHS standards is to opt for a used car with a model year named as a TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ award by the IIHS.

Stay Home in Bad Weather

The only foolproof way to stay safe on the roads in bad weather is to avoid driving altogether. Opt to stay home during snow, sleet, or hail, whenever possible. Delay errands for a later day or time, and reschedule plans with friends. If you must drive to work or school, follow the aforementioned winter driving safety tips.

Find the Best Used Cars for Winter in Kansas City

Unfortunately, because of limited public transportation throughout the metro, Kansas Citians must rely on vehicle ownership to get where they’re going, regardless of the weather. If you’re one of many area residents whose lives could be significantly improved by owning a quality used car, but you’re uncertain you could qualify for a loan, you can find affordable used cars in Kansas City, without needing a high credit score. These reliable cars can help keep you safe as you drive in the metro this winter.