Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Avoid Fender Benders This Winter

Do you know the best way to keep paint-less dent repair, windshield and glass replacement, and collision repair bills to a minimum? Avoid collisions in the first place-some may say that's easier said than done, but a number of winter fender benders are caused by simple oversights that can lead to costly consequences. Fortunately, most car accidents aren't fatal. There are many more people bumping into each other at slow speeds in parking lots than going Dukes of Hazzard crazy on the highways, but that little scrape can cost a pretty penny.
Things get even more hectic during the winter holidays partly because of the ice and snow, and partly because people are battling the crowds to get to those Black Friday sales. Here's a refresher course on how to avoid fender benders and make sure the winter months are as safe as possible. With the cash you'll save from bumper repair, you'll have yourself a much happier holiday.
The Basics
Following distance plays a key role in fender benders-leave three to four seconds between you and the car in front of you, and a little more buffer space if weather conditions are iffy. However, drivers should be looking about 10 seconds in front of their vehicles. Scan the area around you and remember that situational awareness can help you avoid a number of accidents, whether it's the cat who's thinking about making a run for it (right in front of your car) or an SUV with a massive blind spot who has their reverse lights on.
It might sound counterintuitive, but try to keep brake use to a minimum. Many drivers rely too heavily on their brakes when the 10 second scan should be doing most of that job for them. Simultaneously, make sure you're letting other drivers know your intentions by signaling well ahead of time and anticipating where you'll be going next. If you know you need to take an upcoming exit, move into that lane in advance.
To Claim or Not to Claim?
Everyone wants to avoid insurance hikes, and it can be a tough call when the damage doesn't look very severe. If you do get into a small accident, it's impossible for anyone but a skilled collision repair professional to estimate the repair costs. Always exchange information, but consider taking in your vehicle for a free repair estimate before filing that claim. The repair costs might be less than your deductible, or just slightly over that figure-but the insurance hike might not make the claim worthwhile.
As we move full force into the holiday season, one of the best ways to avoid a collision is to simply steer clear of the busiest places. A super crowded parking lot with a generous sprinkle of holiday stress is a recipe for disaster. Keep your own stress levels to a minimum and shop during off hours or online, try to stick close to home if the weather gets too nasty and remember that defensive driving is key.

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