Washington Drivers: The Right Way to Abandon Your Car in a Snow Storm

December 12, 2008

SEATTLE, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ — As Washington braces for another possible
snowstorm tonight and through the weekend, some drivers will take the risky
step of abandoning their vehicles, unable to maneuver through the ice and

According to PEMCO Insurance, one of Washington’s largest auto insurers,
drivers should know there’s a right way — and a wrong way — to abandon a
vehicle when weather conditions dictate.

Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson, recommends that people inexperienced at
driving in snow and ice avoid the problem by staying off the roads during
winter storms. “Drivers should decide whether they need to be on the road in
the first place. But we recognize there are times when the weather turns
quickly and circumstances demand that you must drive.”

When a driver becomes stranded on the road, PEMCO suggests staying with
the car if you safely can. “If there’s a chance a tow truck or other help is
coming, stay with your vehicle. Leaving it in the roadway presents many
risks,” Osterberg said.

For example, if drivers leave their vehicle on a route that’s usually kept
open for emergency traffic, it can be towed, especially if it presents a
danger to other drivers.

“Towing charges can be steep, and abandoned-car towing fees typically
aren’t covered by insurance,” he said.

Abandoned cars also run a higher risk of being involved in hit-and-run
collisions in snowy weather. Heavy snowfall can obscure a car or place it
where others are likely to slide into it. According to Osterberg, hit-and-run
damage typically subjects drivers to a higher deductible when the car is

PEMCO recommends the following tips for drivers who must abandon their

    -- Try to get as far off the traveled roadway as you safely can.
    -- Turn on your flashers, and leave them on.  A dead battery is better
       than causing an accident for which you could be held responsible.
    -- Set out flares to warn other drivers, if you can safely do so.
    -- Make a reasoned judgment about whether to remain with the vehicle and
       call for help, or to strike out on your own.  Some factors to consider
       are your health, clothing for the weather, distance to the nearest
       help, and likelihood of your vehicle being hit while you're inside it.
    -- Leave a note in the window with your contact information.  That
       improves your chance of hearing from someone who hits your vehicle, or
       from the authorities.
    -- Take your most valuable items with you.
    -- Be sure to remove personal information that could allow a thief to
       locate your home and loved ones, steal your identity, or otherwise
       defraud you.
    -- Secure the vehicle by setting the emergency brake and locking the
       doors.  Professional towing companies know how to safely tow your
    -- You can prevent having to abandon a vehicle by monitoring the weather
       before a storm hits. But if you're unavoidably caught in a snowstorm,
       be prepared. Proper snow tires and/or chains will help you maneuver
       through snow and ice.  Keep emergency winter clothes and supplies in
       your vehicle to buy you time and protection.

People from colder climates often marvel at how even light snowfall can
paralyze Western Washington motorists, closing schools and businesses.
Osterberg acknowledges the perception that native drivers are timid, but notes
several factors differentiate Seattle snowstorms from those found elsewhere:

    -- Seattle-area motorists generally have limited snow-driving skills
       compared with drivers elsewhere, because of little experience and
       infrequent practice. That results in spinouts and abandoned vehicles.
    -- Unlike in colder climates, such as across the Cascades and points
       eastward, snow often falls at around 32-34 degrees near Seattle. The
       result is wet, slippery snow that's harder to drive on than cold, dry
    -- The Seattle area has many hills, making snow driving inherently tricky.
    -- Because it's surrounded by water, the Seattle area has many roadway
       bottlenecks that become worse in snow.
    -- Infrequent snowfall = less snow-removal equipment in Western

“Add those up, and it’s a recipe for gridlock during Seattle snowstorms,”
said Osterberg.

About PEMCO Insurance

PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto,
home, boat, life, and umbrella insurance to Washington state residents. PEMCO
Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the state and through PEMCO
offices. For more information, visit http://www.pemco.com.


     Jon Osterberg (206) 628-4019      Mark Firmani (206) 443-9357
     PEMCO Insurance                   Firmani + Associates Inc.
     jon.osterberg@pemco.com           mark@firmani.com


Source: newswire

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