Tips for Safe Driving in Winter Conditions
For many, winter is the happiest season of all – allowing for more quality time with loved ones and some time away from the 8-to-5 grind.
Unfortunately, winter can also mean unsafe driving conditions and fatal car accidents. While living in central New Mexico often affords us little snow and ice, both do make their way into our lives here and there.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Academy, car accidents are the number one cause of death during winter storms. Let’s review some tips to keep you and your family safe this winter.
Before Getting On the Road
Before heading out of the house or office, check for traffic and road hazard alerts. Local news and radio stations often provide this information, and app technology has provided even easier access to these alerts. Apps like Waze will alert you to accidents, traffic jams and road hazards. Checking an app like Waze before getting on the road will allow you to better plan your route. Keep in mind that bridges and overpasses will freeze first. If possible, seek an alternative route.
When You’re On the Road
While driving, keep a greater-than-normal distance between you and the car in front of you, as stopping distances are longer when roads are covered with snow and ice. Keep your headlights on for safety and avoid using cruise control. If children are in route with you, it is safest to seat them in the back. And, of course, buckle up!
If Your Car Begins to Slide or Skid
When your car begins to slide, it’s a natural instinct to pump the breaks; HOWEVER, this can actually cause you to slide further and potentially lose control of the vehicle.
If your rear tires begin to skid on ice, it is recommended to take your foot off of the gas pedal and turn the wheel in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding (where you want the front wheels to go). Doing this should help to get your vehicle back on the right track. Be very careful not to over-correct.
If your front tires begin to skid, take your foot off of the gas pedal and shift into neutral. As the car begins to slow down, steer gently. Once you have control of the car and feel traction, go back in gear and accelerate slowly. If you have a manual transmission, depress the clutch and tap the brake pedal lightly.
Stuck in the Snow?
After you turn on your hazard lights and determine that it is safe to exit (and only if it is safe to exit), turn your wheels from side to side. This will help to push out the snow. Now, this is where that winter driving essentials kit comes into play. Clear as much snow as you can from the tires and underside of your car. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of your wheels. Lightly accelerate, placing your car into a low gear.
Take it Slow!
Remember – driving at lower speeds gives you better control of your vehicle. Downshift to a lower gear if you anticipate driving onto ice. Be careful not to drive faster than 45mph if roads are icy – even highways. On black ice, any vehicle can slide off of the road at 10mph or less. If you’re fishtailing or sliding at all, slow down!
Also remember that All-Wheel-Drive does not give you more grip in corners or help you to stop. Turn slowly, accelerate gently, and brake lightly and early.
Wishing you all a safe, happy and healthy holiday season!
Injured in an Auto Accident?
Injured in an auto accident that was caused by the negligence of another party? Contact Baskerville Law LLC today for your risk free and confidential consultation with trusted auto accident attorney Rob Baskerville. You can also complete the quick online Consultation Request Form below.