During the winter season, drivers face an array of challenges that demand careful preparation and caution. According to the NHTSA, in 2021, there were 395 fatal crashes and an estimated 22,325 injury crashes that took place in snowy or sleety conditions at the time of the accidents. It is crucial to remain aware of these statistics and prioritize safety on the road.
From icy roads to poor visibility, winter driving can be treacherous. To help you navigate these conditions, here are 12 essential safety tips for winter driving.
1. Drive Slowly on Snow & Ice
Snow and ice-covered roads can be unpredictable and demand caution. Reducing your speed will give you more time to react to changes in road conditions. The slower you drive, the better control you have over your vehicle in snowy or icy conditions.
2. Brake & Accelerate Slowly
When driving on slippery surfaces, such as snow or ice, it's important to avoid abrupt braking or accelerating. These sudden movements can lead to a loss of control over your vehicle. Instead, it is recommended to gradually increase your speed, allowing your tires to maintain grip on the road without skidding. Additionally, it's worth noting that slowing down in snowy or icy conditions may require more time and distance due to reduced traction.
3. Check the Weather Before Leaving
Before you set out on a long winter drive or even out to run a quick errand, always check the weather forecast. This will help you anticipate road conditions and plan your trip accordingly. If adverse weather is predicted, leave yourself more time to reach your destination or consider rescheduling altogether.
4. Assume Bridge Surfaces Are Slippery
Bridges are more exposed compared to roads as they have air above and flowing beneath them. This exposure leads to rapid heat loss and quicker freezing. As such, it's crucial to exercise extra caution when approaching bridges and be prepared for icy patches.
5. Do Not Follow Snowplows Too Closely
When driving behind snowplows, be cautious of ice or snow chunks that may be kicked up and potentially damage your vehicle. Maintain a safe distance to minimize any risks. In addition, refrain from attempting to pass the snowplows, as your car could become trapped in the snow being pushed by the plow.
6. Keep Your Gas Tank Full
To prevent your gas from freezing, it's advisable to keep your gas tank close to full or at least halfway. Another reason to keep it full is because condensation can develop inside a fuel tank.
When cold water vapor encounters a warm surface, it creates a damp layer on glass or windows. This same process can occur inside a fuel tank, potentially leading to damage. Water droplets that form inside the tank can sink to the bottom and corrode engine components.
7. Deice Your Windshield Well
Always take the time to properly clear snow and ice from your windshield and other windows before driving. Good visibility is essential to road safety – don't compromise it by trying to peer through a tiny, cleared portion of your windshield.
8. Pack an Emergency Kit
An emergency kit can be a lifesaver in case of a breakdown or accident.
Items in your emergency kit can include:
- Warm clothing
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Jumper cables
- Non-perishable food and water
- Phone charger
9. Keep More Distance Between Cars
Snow and ice can significantly increase stopping distances. Allow for extra space between your vehicle and the one in front to give you enough time to react if necessary. It's recommended to increase your following distance to eight to 10 seconds.
10. Steer in the Direction of a Skid
If your vehicle begins to skid, steer in the direction you want your car to go. Avoid slamming on the brakes, as this could make the situation worse. Try to stay calm and steer smoothly to regain control of your vehicle.
11. Avoid Stopping While Going Up Hills
Stopping while climbing a hill can make it challenging to start again, especially on icy surfaces. Try to keep a steady pace when driving up hills and avoid coming to a complete stop if possible.
12. Inspect Your Tires
Regularly inspect your tires for signs of wear and tear, as well as proper inflation. Properly maintained tires can provide better traction in winter driving conditions. Consider getting snow tires if you live in an area with frequent snowfall.
Contact Our Team for Help
As a general rule, always exercise caution when driving in winter weather conditions. It's essential to remain alert and adaptable on the road to ensure your safety and the safety of others. By following these 12 safety tips, you can make your winter driving experience safer and more enjoyable.
However, sometimes other drivers may not be as careful. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, get in touch with our car accident attorneys at Belushin Law Firm, P.C.. We've been passionately advocating for clients since 2002 and can do the same for you.
Contact our firm today when you dial (888) 918-9890 or send us a message online.