Driving in the winter can be a much different experience from driving at any other time of the year, depending on where you live in the United States. Winter weather can get intense, making roads hazardous and driving more difficult, increasing your risk of a single-car accident or getting into a collision with another vehicle.

According to AAA, the average cost to operate a 2017 model vehicle each year is $8,469. Car accidents in the winter can cause that number to go up as well as put your safety at risk. Follow these three driving tips to keep you safe on the road this winter and avoid needing paintless dent repair.

Avoid Driving In Bad Weather

The safest thing you can do during inclement weather is to stay off the road as much as possible. Especially if it’s at night or during the first 10 minutes of rain when the risk of hydroplaning is at its highest. Taking these precautions will prevent you from having to put yourself or others at unnecessary risk.

At times, temperatures can rise and drop above freezing, meaning rain, sleet and snow that fell can refreeze on the road. It may not be immediately noticeable, but black ice can easily cause accidents for unsuspecting drivers. Rather than chance an expensive car accident and potential injury to yourself and others, avoid driving altogether when it’s unsafe. When a winter storm is on the forecast, try to stock up on groceries and other essentials ahead of time.

Clear Off Your Car

Before you drive, make sure you clear all the snow and ice off of your entire car. Some people just wipe the snow off their windshield, but that can prove dangerous to the cars behind you while driving. Chunks of snow can slide off the top of your car, hitting the cars behind or the road, increasing the chance of an accident. It’s also important to clean off your side mirrors as well as the driver and passenger side windows to maintain full visibility while driving.

Keep Space Between You and Other Cars

One important tip to remember in order to keep enough space between your car and others is to slowly accelerate and decelerate. This also helps ensure your tires won’t spin out or cause you to lose control. You should also signal ahead of changing lanes and take your time when doing so. Practice defensive driving and be aware of other cars on the road constantly, knowing that they could lose control or crash due to the treacherous conditions. When you keep enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, it becomes easier to take your time slowing down and stopping to avoid an accident. Ice and snow can make the roads slippery, meaning it’ll take you longer to stop when you hit the brakes. Prepare for this by giving the vehicles around you plenty of room. Tips like this will help you avoid smashed fenders.

While driving in the winter can be scary, being prepared will make the process much easier. As long as you know what you’re doing and you drive safely and more slowly, you’ll be more likely to avoid accidents or being stranded. So, follow these three tips to keep you and your loved ones safe while driving. If your car somehow ends up dented or dinged anyways, contact the Dent Shop right away for a free estimate and fast, high-quality paintless dent repairs.