While the season can be very beautiful and provide lots of opportunities for fun family activities, winter is a time when drivers need to be especially careful. The roads can be and often are slippery and dangerous, especially during a rain or snowstorm.
In this blog post, we will provide 10 helpful tips for staying safe on the roads this winter. Whether you are a first-time driver or an experienced one, these 10 tips will help you stay safe while driving in the winter weather. Read on for the tips you need to know.
#1 - Thoroughly Clear the Snow and Ice from Your Vehicle
Before putting your foot on the gas pedal, always clear the snow and ice from your car. This includes the windshield, windows, mirrors, headlights, and taillights. You need to be able to see clearly while driving, and your lights need to be visible to other drivers.
It is also a good idea to remove the snow from the top of your car. While it may not seem like it could become a problem, thick and heavy snow from the top of the car can easily slide onto your windshield, making it difficult or even impossible to see what is in front of you. Avoid this dangerous scenario altogether by clearing the snow off the top of your car before setting out on your trip.
#2 - Drive Slower Than You Would in Dry Conditions
Slow down more than you think you need to when driving in winter weather conditions. It takes much longer to stop on a slippery road, so you need to give yourself a lot of extra time to brake.
Keep in mind that black ice is not always visible to the naked eye. If the roads look wet and the temperature is low, assume that they may be icy and drive accordingly.
If you live in a region where the roads frequently ice over and stay icy, installing spikes on your tires may be helpful to improve your tire traction.
#3 - Use Extra Caution When Passing Slow Vehicles
Use additional caution when passing snow plows or salt trucks. These vehicles are clearing the roads for other drivers, so give them plenty of space to do their jobs effectively.
While it may be frustrating having to wait for these slower vehicles to move out of the way, it is important to consider that they are making the roads safer for all, and that is far more valuable than a few drivers being on time.
#4 - Refrain from Using Cruise Control
Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather. It is easy to lose control of your car on a slippery road if you are using cruise control.
When your car is in cruise control and the ground is wet, you run the risk of hydroplaning when you approach standing water. If the roads are icy and cruise control is applied, it is possible for your vehicle to slide and end up spinning completely out of control.
While cruise control can be a helpful tool when the roads are dry, it is best to avoid using it when the streets are wet, covered in snow, or icy.
#5 - Increase Your Following Distance
Increase your following distance when driving behind other vehicles. This will give you extra time to slow down or stop if the car in front of you applies the brakes suddenly.
If you are going downhill in wet, snowy, or icy conditions, it is in your best interest to increase your driving distance even further. If you begin to slide going downhill, you will want to have as much space in front of you as possible to avoid a collision. This is especially the case in icy conditions, as the driver ahead of you is more likely to lose control of their vehicle than they normally would.
#6 - Never Warm Up Your Car in an Enclosed Area
Never warm up your car in an enclosed area, such as a household garage. The exhaust fumes can be dangerous to breathe in. It is best to open the garage door while you warm up the car so you don't inadvertently inhale toxic fumes that could be harmful to your health.
#7 - Know How to Handle a Skid
If you start to skid, don’t panic. Take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the car to go. If you have antilock brakes, gently press down on the brake pedal.
It is best to avoid slamming on the brakes. Doing so can actually cause you to lose control of the car even further.
Also, do your best not to oversteer. This is another action that can lead to a further loss of control of your vehicle.
#8 - Do Not Drive Distracted
Distracted driving is dangerous at any time, but it is especially risky in winter weather. Always pay close attention to the road and your surroundings.
If you have a hard time ignoring the notifications on your phone as they come in, putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode while you are driving can be significantly helpful.
While it is important to eat when you are hungry, doing so while driving can be dangerous. If you must eat during a trip, it is wise to pull over for a few minutes and eat rather than trying to eat behind the wheel. This can be a major distraction and is especially dangerous in winter weather.
#9 - Check Your Tires
Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread. This will help you maintain the traction you need on the road.
To check the tread on your tires, place a penny into the tread groove on your tire with former President Lincoln's head upside down and facing toward you. If you are able to see all of Lincoln's head, this means that your tread depth is not at least 2/32 inch, and it is likely time for you to get new tires.
#10 - Drive Defensively
In general, it is always a good idea to drive defensively. Be aware of other drivers and give yourself extra time to react.
Driving defensively means utilizing techniques that reduce your risk of being involved in an accident by staying alert, always being as prepared as possible for unexpected events, and controlling whatever aspects of the drive you can.
Following these tips can help you stay safe on the roads this winter. Drive carefully and always be prepared for the worst.
If You’re Hurt in a Winter Weather Crash, We Can Help
Sustaining injuries in a winter weather crash can be both frightening and painful. If it has happened to you as a result of another’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Our team has helped many others in similar situations recover the compensation they deserved, and we will do whatever we can to help you too. Don’t delay—reach out to our office with your questions and concerns right away. We are ready and willing to help you now.
Call the skilled attorneys at our firm today at (512) 400-3278 or fill out the online contact form to learn more about your legal options.