Take precautions when driving in winter, auto insurance exchange says

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Drivers should be extra-cautious in dangerous winter conditions, New Jersey nonprofit suggests

Dangerous winter driving conditions necessitate extra care, New Jersey auto insurance nonprofit Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange says.

The not-for-profit exchange was created in the 1980s to combat New Jersey's high insurance rates. As a consumer-focused organization, it offers several tips to ensure that drivers are less likely to incur accidents this winter.

Drivers who see snow and ice on the roads should slow down, CURE suggests, especially when they are approaching an intersection or shaded area. Those spots can hide black ice, so called because it is invisible.

Drivers should also remove snow from their boots and cars before setting off. Snow on shoes will melt and contribute to window fogging, potentially impairing visibility. And the snow that accumulates on a car both lowers visibility and imperils other drivers by flying off when the car is in motion. Some states even require drivers to clear snow from their cars.

Exhaust pipes should be cleared to keep carbon monoxide from building up in cars' cabins. And, adds CURE, drivers should not pass plows or sanding trucks; roads will be clearer ahead of them.

Weather is a factor in 28 percent of all crashes, the National Academy of Sciences says, so safety is essential in reducing accident risk and keeping auto insurance rates low.

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Posted: December 18, 2009

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