Winter brings snow, making avoiding winter accidents harder. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, more than 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,000 suffer injuries in automotive accidents because of snowy, icy or slushy roadways every year. Severe winter weather can be extremely dangerous to drive in. The first thing you should always do is determine whether it is necessary to drive in harsh weather conditions. If you absolutely have to, these driving tips will help you avoid winter accidents.
Check the weather on your route ahead of time.
By planning ahead, you will know what to expect and will be able to find alternative routes if needed. Finding the clearest routes is the first step in avoiding winter accidents.
Allow extra time to arrive at your destination.
Trips can take longer during winter than any other time of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Driving in inclement weather is stressful enough so be sure to plan to give yourself plenty of travel time. Even if you’re a good driver, other drivers may not do so well at avoiding winter accidents. So be prepared for traffic and travel congestion.
Winterize your car.
You should have your mechanic inspect your car to make sure your tire pressure is correct, fluids are topped off, and your battery is in proper working order. Winter can be harsh on your vehicle so you need to put more effort into vehicle maintenance to make sure your car, truck, or SUV is in a proper and safe working condition. Make sure your defrosters work well too. A clear windshield and properly inflated tires will keep winter travel safe and help you successfully avoid winter accidents.
Keep a full tank of gas.
Be sure to keep your gas tank full. Stormy weather or traffic delays may force you to change routes or turn around. Keeping a full tank of gas will also prevent your gas line from freezing and prevent you from having to make frequent stops.
Keep headlights and windshields clear.
Visibility is extremely important. Make sure to keep your headlights on and clear as well as keeping your windshield clear from snow and ice. You should always keep your defrost on. If your car starts to fog up, cracking a window should help.
Keep an emergency bag on hand.
Having a winter emergency kit in your car will help you be prepared while traveling. Put some extra clothing and emergency items into your vehicle in case you break down in cold weather. This should include a pair of gloves, warm pants and a coat, a blanket, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a windshield scraper. A shovel and a bag of kitty litter may be necessary as well. You might also add in a few non-perishable snacks such as water, chips and nutrition bars.
Fully charge your cell phone and make sure to bring a car charger in case you’re running late or need to call help if you get stuck or have an emergency. Always pull over if you need to make the call.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends slowing down by about 50 percent in severe weather. Be sure to leave extra space between you and the car in front of you in case of slippery roads. When driving in snow or on ice it is recommended to stay at least 8-10 seconds behind the person in front of you.
Learn how to brake in the snow.
Braking works differently in the snow than on dry roads. Travel further behind other drivers, and pump your brakes in bursts. Slamming your brakes in the snow will cause your tires to slip and slide.
Minimize most, if not all distractions while driving. Safe driving means staying alert at all times by paying attention to your surroundings. Never use cruise control. If you feel tired or need to stop wait to do so until you are near a safe exit. Do not pull over to the shoulder. Low visibility due to snowstorms can increase the chances of an accident with parked vehicles on the shoulder.
Do not drive too fast. If you find yourself driving too fast and your car starts to skid, don’t brake at all. Instead, steer in the direction you want to go, then brake smoothly once the wheels regain control.
Use your signals.
Signal early when stopping or turning in order to give the vehicles behind you and oncoming vehicles extra time to react.
Keep an eye out for black ice.
If you spot black ice up ahead, go around it if possible. If unable to do so, drive slowly and refrain from hitting your breaks.
Unfortunately, you cannot control the other drivers on the road. No matter how careful you are, you may still end up in an accident due to the careless acts of others. If you do get into an accident while driving in winter weather, remain calm and contact Galligan Law by visiting our site or by calling 1-800-217-9312. We offer a free no-obligation consultation. We will review the details of your accident and injuries to determine if you have a case. If you do, we will work to help you get the compensation you deserve. Stay safe this winter!