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Safe winter driving in Pennsylvania

Drivers will want to prepare for the challenges of winter driving, and one of the first steps is to ensure a properly winterized vehicle. They could check antifreeze levels, replace the windshield wipers and consider getting snow tires. A mechanic could inspect components like the battery, spark plugs, brakes and ignition. Drivers should also carry jumper cables, tire chains, ice scrapers, flares and other essentials in case of an emergency.

Many are unfamiliar with the safety features in their own vehicles, prompting the National Safety Council to come up with a campaign called "My Car Does What?" Drivers can take advantage of this educational opportunity. At the very least, they should know if their vehicle comes with traction control and anti-lock braking.

Before heading out, drivers should plan out a travel route, avoid unfamiliar roads and never be afraid to pull over when a whiteout diminishes visibility. If they can wait out a storm, they should do so. While some may want to leave their car running in the garage to warm it up, this is not advisable; it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Drivers should accelerate and decelerate slowly. If possible, they should not stop when going uphill. Cruise control and the parking brake should be avoided in winter conditions. Drivers are encouraged to maintain an 8-to-10-second distance from other vehicles.

Neglecting safe practices will only make drivers liable to get into auto accidents. Those who are injured through little or no fault of their own may be able to file a claim, especially if they were left with serious injuries requiring long-term medical care. Auto insurance companies could be aggressive in denying payment, so victims may want to hire a lawyer to build up the case and have him or her handle all negotiations.

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