Winter Driving Tips
Winter can bring challenging driving conditions, even for well-seasoned motorists. Each year, over 1,300 people across the US are killed and over 116,000 sustain injuries in motor vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement. With the proper preparation and safety measures, motorists can navigate the snow and ice safely. Here are 10 essential winter safety driving tips to keep you and your passengers secure on the road.
1. Prepare Your Car for Winter
Before winter sets in, make sure your vehicle is ready for the challenges of the cold weather season. If you’re taking a road trip these tips can also help you prepare in advance. Ensure you winterize your vehicle by taking the following measures:
- Check your battery power – Test your battery before the temperature drops. Cold temperatures can reduce a battery’s effectiveness, so ensure it’s charged and in good condition.
- Inspect your tires – Make sure they have adequate tread depth and are properly inflated for better traction on snow and ice. Tire pressure drops in colder temperatures. Winter tires are vital in winter driving conditions because they typically have deeper, more flexible tread. If you use all-season tires, you should replace them if the tread is less than 2/32 of an inch.
- Top off fluids – Ensure your antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, and other essential fluids are at optimal levels.
- Fill up your gas tank or keep your vehicle charged – Running out of gas in freezing temperatures is not only inconvenient but can also be dangerous. Ensure your gas tank is at least half full to avoid gas line freeze. Electric vehicle owners should keep their batteries fully charged.
- Ensure your headlights and taillights are working properly – Visibility is not only about what you can see but also about being seen. Regularly check that all your lights are functioning correctly, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals.
- Check your exhaust pipe – A blocked pipe could cause carbon monoxide gas to leak into your vehicle while the engine is running. Never leave a vehicle running in your garage as it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Check the vehicle’s cooling system – Ensure the vehicle’s cooling system is in good working order.
2. Keep the Windshield and Windows Clear
Maintaining visibility is crucial in winter weather.
- Check your windshield wiper fluid and replace the blades if needed.
- Before hitting the road, clear all windows, mirrors, and lights of ice and snow for optimal visibility.
- Use windshield washer fluid with antifreeze. This helps prevent the washer fluid from freezing on the windshield.
3. Know Your Car’s Capabilities
Understanding your vehicle’s limitations is crucial. Different cars respond differently to winter conditions, so be aware of your car’s braking system, traction control, and other safety features. If you have an all-wheel-drive vehicle, familiarize yourself with how it functions in snowy or icy conditions.
- Drive at a constant speed – Avoid abrupt acceleration, deceleration, or turns. Keep a steady pace to prevent skidding.
- Steer into a skid – Brake gently to avoid skidding. If you have antilock brakes, apply steady pressure, and if you don’t, pump the brakes gently. If your car begins to skid, it’s best to steer in the direction you want to go. Don’t slam on the brakes, as this can make the skid worse.
4. Plan Your Route in Advance
Planning ahead can make a significant difference in winter driving safety. Before embarking on a journey, check for road closures, accidents, or severe weather warnings. Choose well-traveled routes that are more likely to be plowed and treated.
5. Check the Weather Forecast
Staying informed about upcoming weather conditions is a key part of winter driving preparation. Check the forecast regularly, especially before longer trips, to anticipate any adverse weather you might encounter.
6. Avoid Cruise Control in Wintry Conditions
Don’t activate your cruise control when driving on a slippery surface. Using cruise control on snowy or icy roads can be dangerous. Maintain control by accelerating and decelerating manually.
7. Watch for Animals
In winter, wildlife may be more active near roads, especially during colder periods. Keep a keen eye out for animals and other potential road hazards. Exercise extreme caution and reduce your speed in wooded areas, particularly during dawn and dusk when animals are most active.
8. Drive Slowly and Avoid Distractions
It’s essential to drive slowly, especially in bad weather conditions. Driving slowly allows for better control, giving you more time to react to slippery conditions and unexpected obstacles. Additionally, gentle maneuvers are key to maintaining control of your vehicle in snowy conditions. Avoid distractions, such as using a cell phone or adjusting in-car systems.
9. Increase Your Following Distance
Give yourself plenty of room to stop. On snowy and icy roads, it takes longer to come to a complete stop. It’s crucial to increase stopping distances on snow and ice-covered roads. Maintain a safe following distance from other vehicles, especially in wintry conditions.
10. Pack Supplies for Emergencies
It’s essential to prepare for the unexpected. Stay warm and pack an emergency kit with the following items:
- Winter gear – gloves, winter hats, coats, scarves, and socks.
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Portable chargers
- Non-perishable snacks and water
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- A bag of salt or kitty litter – absorbs moisture and can provide traction on snow, slush, and ice
- Snow shovel and ice scraper
- Jumper cables
What to Do If You’re Caught in a Storm
Even with the best preparation, unexpected storms can still pose challenges. If you encounter storm conditions it’s best to take the following actions:
- Check the weather updates and adjust your plans accordingly. Change routes to avoid the worst of the storm.
- If conditions worsen, seek shelter at a rest area, gas station, or any other safe location.
- If you need to pull over, turn on your hazard lights to make your vehicle more visible to others.
We Represent Auto Accident Victims
While we strive for safe driving practices, accidents can still occur, especially in challenging winter conditions. If you find yourself involved in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it’s essential to know your rights.
At Alpha Accident Lawyers, we specialize in representing auto accident victims, offering the support and legal advocacy you need during difficult times. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys is dedicated to helping you secure the compensation you deserve. Call our law office today to schedule a free consultation.START YOUR FREE CONSULTATION