If you live in the state of New Jersey you know that the winter season can bring all sorts of weather. From rain to snow, from ice to fog, you never know what you’ll run into when you get behind the wheel.

Although you don’t have control over other drivers, there are steps you can personally take to lessen the risk of a wintertime car accident. Here are several things you must do:

  • Use the right type of tires: For example, you may want to swap out your every day tires for snow tires. When doing so, make sure you’re using four of the same kind. Mixing radial tires with other types actually increases the risk of a crash.
  • Don’t use cruise control: Using cruise control on slick roads, such as those covered in rain or ice, increases the likelihood of losing control of your vehicle.
  • Increase your following distance: It takes more time to stop your vehicle on wet roadways, so a greater following distance is a must. As a general rule of thumb, aim for a distance of eight to 10 seconds.
  • Don’t stop when traveling uphill: This doesn’t mean you should push the limit by tackling a hill that’s covered in snow and/or ice. However, if you are heading uphill, do your best to maintain your momentum. If your vehicle stops completely, you may find it difficult to get moving again.
  • Steer in the direction you want to go: If your car begins to skid, don’t panic. Take your foot off the gas, don’t slam the brakes and do steer in the direction you want to go.

If you take these basic steps, you’ll be more confident in your ability to remain safe when driving in inclement winter weather.

If you’re part of a car accident, here’s what you need to do:

  • Move your vehicle out of traffic
  • Check yourself and your passengers for injuries
  • Call 911 and explain what’s happening
  • Wait for ambulance and police to arrive
  • Document the accident, such as by exchanging information and taking photos
  • Receive medical treatment
  • Review your insurance policy
  • Contact your insurance agent to file a claim

Doing all of these things puts you in position to protect your legal rights, while holding the negligent driver responsible for causing the accident (and other parties determined to hold liability as well).