Now that winter is here Virginia drivers must take the proper precautions when on the road. Bad driving conditions mean a higher risk of accident, especially when dealing with careless motorists. While you can’t always prevent accidents from occurring you can greatly reduce the risk by keeping the following tips in mind.

Take care on long trips

Many people take long road trips over the holiday season. In this case, AAA recommends checking the weather report before setting out. Winter storms can occur suddenly and if you’re caught in the midst of one and are unprepared the consequences can be treacherous. If you notice poor weather consider postponing your outing for a few hours. Also, make sure the people at your destination are aware of your estimated time of arrival. That way they can contact help if you don’t arrive.

Know how to drive in the snow

When there is snow on the road your best bet is to drive slowly, even if you must go under the posted speed limit. Snow and ice can make stopping far more difficult and if you speed you face a greater risk of skidding. When going up hills, build inertia before the incline as opposed to pressing the gas while traveling upwards. Also, accelerate and decelerate at a reasonable pace.

Have your car serviced before setting out

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also suggests having your car checked out before taking any long trips. This will prevent breakdowns from occurring, which can be deadly if you’re stranded in cold weather without assistance. Have fluid levels checked and ask your mechanic to look for any worn components so they can be replaced.