5 Tips for Driving During the Winter
Winter driving can be quite dangerous if drivers are not careful. To make matters worse, holiday traffic places even more drivers on the roads during times that could have inclement weather.
What can you do while driving to avoid a collision, and what safe winter driving tips can you implement while behind the wheel to make sure you and your loved ones get to your destination safely?
Here is a list of five tips for driving during the winter from the Birmingham auto accident attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton.
Drive Slowly and Know When and How to Accelerate
While this might seem obvious, it is still a good reminder and a critical factor in remaining safe on the roadways. When driving on snow or ice, always adjust your speed to account for decreased traction—even when it seems like there is not any snow or ice present. Do not try to take off quickly and give yourself enough time to slow down for stoplights. There is a significant difference in the required amount of inertia to start moving your vehicle from a full stop to how much is needed to get going while the car is still moving. So, upon approaching a traffic light, it is recommended that you slow down just enough to keep the vehicle in motion until it changes so you can proceed.
While on a snow-covered road, applying extra gas will only make your wheels spin, so try to get a little bit of momentum built up before you reach a hill and let it carry you to the top rather than being forced to accelerate significantly. As you reach the hill’s crest, slow down and proceed down the hill slowly, but do not ever slam on the brakes. If you are driving up a hill, do not stop. You will be in a tough predicament if you try to get moving up a hill on an icy road from a dead stop and you should build up momentum on a flat roadway before you attempt to drive up a hill.
Increase Your Following Distance
It is best to add five to six seconds to your following distance. This increased safety margin provides the space you need if you suddenly must stop—especially on icy roads. It is also essential to recognize and understand how your brakes work. Regardless of the kind of brakes your vehicle has, make sure to keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply steady yet solid pressure to the brakes. Do not slam on your brakes as they will be much more likely to lock up, causing you to lose control of the vehicle. Remember, it is not only harder to slow down on icy surfaces, but it takes more time to do so as well.
Clear the Exhaust Pipe
It is especially important to clear out your exhaust pipe before driving your vehicle and remove any snow, dirt, or mud that may have accumulated and clogged it. A blocked exhaust pipe may cause toxic carbon monoxide gas to leak into the car’s cabin while the engine runs, thereby putting all the car’s occupants at serious risk.
Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Driving
Nothing is more important for winter driving than preparation. Make sure your tires have the proper inflation and adequate tread. Tires that are bald are hazardous on icy, snowy roads. Always make sure to have more than half a tank of fuel in your car, and never warm up your vehicle in enclosed spaces that have no ventilation. When you do warm your vehicle, make sure that your windows are fully defrosted using your vehicle’s defrost functions. Do not throw hot water on your windows in an attempt to accelerate the defrost, this can cause your windshields to crack. Replace your wiper blades as needed and keep the windshield wiper reservoir filled.
Always go through the following checklist to ensure everything is working as it should for the safety of you and your vehicle’s occupants:
- Cooling system
- Windshield wipers
- Washer reservoir
- Wipers and defrosters
- Floor mats
Stock Your Vehicle for Emergency Scenarios
In case you are in the worst-case scenario, you want to make sure you are ready. Have items in your vehicle to address winter driving-related tasks and any supplies you might need in case of an emergency, such as:
- Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper
- Abrasive material if your car gets stuck in the snow (i.e., sand, kitty litter, etc.)
- Jumper cables, two flashlights, and warning devices (i.e., flares, emergency markers, etc.)
- Blankets and other warm clothing for protection from the cold
- A charger for your cell phone, water, food, and any required medication
Our Auto Accident Attorneys Are Here if Your Winter Driving Ends in an Accident
Have you suffered injuries from a winter driving accident where you were not at fault? Are you the victim of a personal injury incident that you have contemplated pursuing compensation for? If so, the experienced personal injury lawyers in Alabama at Hare, Wynn, Newell, and Newton can help. Since 1890, we have been helping people like you with their personal injury cases, and we would be privileged to assist you with yours. Contact us today.