Study: Motorists Don’t Drive as Well in Freezing Temperatures

December 10, 2007

Many American drivers are unsure of proper vehicle operational procedures when driving in freezing temperatures, according to a survey conducted by GMAC Insurance and Road Safe America. The survey, which sampled licensed Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, indicates that more than one- third of drivers cannot correctly identify the proper use of cruise control, and nearly two-thirds underestimate how full they should keep their gas tanks.

Specifically, the survey found that 36 percent of licensed drivers — approximately 72 million people — believe it’s safe to drive with their cruise control activated if the temperature is below freezing. However, the two organizations assert that the safest course of action is to avoid using cruise control altogether. Despite clear weather, accumulated moisture on roadways combined with freezing temperatures could lead to icy conditions, which are sometimes undetectable.

Respondents were also unclear on the minimum amount that should be in a vehicle’s gas tank: 31 percent indicated it didn’t matter, four percent responded one-eighth of a tank, 28 percent answered one-quarter tank and 37 percent said one-half tank. The survey organizers recommend keeping the gas tank as full as possible but at least half full to maximize the length of time vehicle occupants can run the engine as a source of heat in an emergency.

Gary Kusumi, president and CEO of GMAC Insurance, points out that while not all Americans live in areas that experience freezing temperatures, it is important for everyone to understand proper vehicle operational procedures.

“As responsible drivers, we should have a good idea of proper driving protocols in a variety of circumstances,” Kusumi said. “It’s critical to know how to stay safe in situations that we don’t necessarily encounter every day, such as driving during freezing weather.”

The survey was administered by TNS, a provider of custom research and analysis. The national sample was comprised of 5,175 total licensed respondents, aged 16-60-plus, balanced to the latest U.S. Census data.

For more information and a list of tips for drivers in freezing temperatures, visit or

Source: GMAC Insurance Group

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.