Risk management

Fleet safety series

Winterizing

Check regularly to be sure winterizing is effective. 

Check the anti-freeze in radiators and windshield washers. Check battery charge and fluid level. Check the exhaust system. Check wipers, and lights, and defrosters, and brakes, tire pressure and tire treads. Check everything that might affect the safety of your trip during the winter months. 

Check the tool box in your vehicle to see that it contains the winter emergency equipment recommended by the National Safety Council; two or three clean rags, and scraper. 

Driving attitudes might need changing to prepare for winter. 

Readjust and adopt new driving patterns for winter. The smooth, dry road surfaces of last summer are gone, and a different approach is needed if motor vehicles of any kind are to be guided over pavements made treacherous by ice, snow and rain. 

First of all, keep in mind the certainty that traffic is going to be slowed by slippery roads, so get an earlier start, allowing more time than usual for a given trip. 

Because of the treacherous footing, be prepared for an out if something happens up ahead, increase following distance. You must have more room for stopping—an extra space cushion. If the lead vehicle slows down, hits a dry patch of pavement and slows too suddenly for you to stop on slick pavement, you’re in trouble. 

Seeing, and being seen is especially important in winter. Dull, cloudy days, will cut down visibility, so drive with low beam headlights on. Other drivers are likely to see your lights more readily than the outline of your vehicle against the gloom. 

Expert drivers have found they can get their vehicles moving much better with a slow start on ice and snow then they can by tromping on the gas. They know, too, that slick pavements demand lower speeds than normal. No matter how good your brakes are, you can’t control high speed if the tires don’t grip the pavement. 

Many a futile attempt to make an emergency stop on winter roads has proven this.

Skidding on curves can be avoided by slowing down beforehand, then accelerating lightly after you start to make the curve. 

If you must go through, regardless of snow and icy roads, reinforced tire chains are the best insurance to provide traction, aid in stopping and to avoid skidding. 

Try to “winterize” your thinking when you must drive on slippery roads.


Insurance products and services are offered through Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated, policies written by one or more Markel insurance companies. Terms and conditions for coverage may vary by state.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.