While you may think the drivers where you live are the worst when it comes to driving in the rain and snow, only those living in or near Boston can truly lay claim to that dubious distinction.
That's according to the latest "Best Driver's Report" issued by Allstate Insurance in Northbrook, Illinois, which tracks how frequently drivers in the nation's 200 largest cities get into collisions, including when rain and/or snow is involved.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that transportation accidents are the leading cause of death during winter storms.
At the other end of Allstate's list, the metro area populated by the safest drivers when precipitation is a factor is calm and collected Kansas City, Kansas. Perhaps that's because winter storms are rare and schools and businesses tend to shut down whenever dusted with as much as an inch or two of snow.
Eight of the top 10 cities having the safest winter drivers are south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Preparation is the key to safely navigating wet or snowy roads, says Allstate's chief claims officer Glenn Shapiro. "Just as you would grab an umbrella or coat when heading out the door, Allstate encourages everyone to take the appropriate precautions to ensure they arrive at their destinations safely."
According to winter driving tips provided by FEMA, that means limiting travel exclusively to daylight hours when you can see and be seen.
Don't travel alone, stick to main routes, and share your itinerary with someone who can contact the authorities should you fail to arrive within a reasonable time. Be sure to keep a set of battery-jumper cables, a good-quality snow/ice scraper, and a jug of washer fluid in the trunk, along with a blanket, flashlight, and snacks in case of an emergency.
If you encounter bad weather, slow down as conditions worsen. Leave extra room between you and the traffic ahead — your car's brakes won't work as well as they would on dry pavement. Keep an eye out for frozen patches, especially on bridges and overpasses which tend to freeze sooner than paved roads.
Avoid using your car's cruise control, as it can delay a driver's reaction time should a sudden emergency situation arise.
If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, avoid spinning the tires — you'll only be digging yourself into a deeper rut. Switch off the car's traction control (it works against you when there's zero traction) and "rock" the vehicle gradually back and forth to get it unstuck.
If that doesn't work, wedge your floor mats under the tires for just enough grip to get going. Some motorists carry flattened cardboard boxes or a bag of sand or cat litter (the non-clumping kind) for this purpose.
Finally, if you can't get the vehicle free after several minutes, call a tow truck to avoid causing damage to your car's transmission and other components.