Driving in winter means snow, sleet and ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers, unforeseen dangers, and car accidents. “Each year, 24 percent of weather-related accidents occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15% happen during snowfall or sleet” (ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather) and “70% of all winter related deaths occur as a result of automobile accidents.”¹ The best advice for driving in bad weather is not to drive at all if you can avoid it.
Prepare Your Car For Winter Driving
Preparing your vehicle for winter can help keep you safe even before the snow piles up.
- Schedule your car for a maintenance check up.
- Check the vehicle’s tire pressure. Proper tire pressure can significantly increase the ability to control a vehicle.
- Make sure your gas tank is half full.
- Check the vehicle’s fluids, including motor oil, antifreeze and wiper fluid.
- Test the battery. Vehicle batteries have to work harder in cold weather. Many repair shops will test batteries for free.
- Examine the wiper blades and replace them, if necessary.
- Keep a roadside kit in the vehicle for maintenance and emergencies, including jumper cables, shovel, flashlight, ice scraper and snow brush, and extra windshield washer fluid.
- Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated and that the rear window defroster works.
Driving in Snowy Conditions
If you must drive in snowy conditions:
- Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work;
- Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination;
- Go slowly and keep a safe distance from any other vehicles on the road;
- Brake gently to avoid skidding;
- Be aware that black ice can develop quickly, especially after sunset when temperatures tend to plummet;
- On snow and ice it takes 3 to 12 times as much distance to stop your car as it does on dry pavement;
- If you do skid, take your foot off the gas, steer into the skid and resume driving only after the vehicle regains traction.
- MAKE SURE YOU CAN SEE AND BE SEEN. Be aware of a truck’s blind spot and spray from snow or slush. (Edmunds.com/car-safety/driving-on-snow-and-ice)
- Signal your intention to change lanes well ahead of time.
- Call 911 if your car breaks down.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
To minimize the instances of driving in hazardous weather it’s important to monitor forecasts and plan accordingly. Also, remember that in many states, including Massachusetts, the law requires that all windows be clear before you drive. You need just as much, if not more, visibility in poor conditions. Your side-view mirrors, all lights and your license plate should be brushed and cleared as well.
Call Now For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, obtain a copy of our Free Report, Some Straight Talk About Insurance Companies and Your Car Accident Claim. In addition, you can contact Attorney Allison now for a free consultation by calling 978-740-9433 or filling out our free consultation form . We look forward to talking to you about your claim.