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Winter Driving Safety Tips: How to Stay Safe on the Road in Snow and Ice

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Beautiful but dangerous looking road covered in ice and snow that can lead to a car crash
By Ashley Amerio

Winter weather can be beautiful, however it can also be dangerous – especially when it comes to driving. Snow and ice can make roads slippery and difficult to navigate, increasing the risk of crashes. As a personal injury law firm, we see the devastating consequences of winter driving accidents all too often. That’s why we want to remind you of the importance of taking extra precautions when driving in winter weather.

The Importance of Taking Extra Precautions on the Road in Winter

Snow and ice are dangerous because they create slippery surfaces on the road, reducing the amount of traction your vehicle has, and can lead to a multitude of accidents and unsafe situations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there were 374 fatal crashes, and an estimated 25,000 injury crashes that occurred in wintry conditions in 2020. The best way to avoid being involved in a crash during winter weather is to stay at home and only go out if it is necessary. If you find yourself driving in winter weather, here are some tips to help you get home safely.

Driving in winter weather is quite different than driving on dry roadways. Here are some things to remember when the weather is less than optimal to keep you safe:

Steps for Removing Snow and Ice from Your Car Before Driving

Clear your car of snow and ice. If your vehicle is covered in snow and ice, it is best to remove any buildup on your car before driving. Not only is it dangerous for you, but sheets of ice may fall from your car while driving and cause a crash if it hits someone behind you. Begin by starting your car, turning on the defrost and setting your fan speed to maximum on the highest temperature setting, this will help burn off any ice stuck on your windows. While your car is running, walk around your vehicle and brush the snow off the roof, trunk lid, and all windows before driving. The goal is to have an unobstructed view in all directions while eliminating anything that could fall off and injure another driver.

Decreasing Your Speed and Driving Safely in Winter Weather

Decrease your speed. The best thing you can do for yourself while driving in winter weather is to slow down and give yourself plenty of distance between the vehicles around you. The posted speed limit is based on driving in the best conditions, so always slow down when there is snow and possible ice on the roads. Keep in mind that some roads, such as bridges and overpasses, will freeze before the main roadways. Driving slower will help account for poor traction and keep you in control. Always accelerate and decelerate slowly, never press on the accelerator with full throttle or slam on your brakes when driving on ice or snow. If your car begins to skid, steer in the direction of the skid, this will keep you from having to overcorrect when the wheels of your vehicle regain traction and help you stay in your lane.

Understanding Your Car’s Features and How They Can Help You Stay Safe

Know your car’s features. Antilock brake systems and traction control will help you stay in control of your vehicle when driving on slippery roadways and it is important to know if your car or SUV is equipped with either of them. Antilock brake systems (ABS) became a legal standard for all cars in 2004, with traction control (TC) becoming standard on all cars after 2012. While these systems are similar in terms of helping you keep control of your vehicle, they are like two different sides of the same coin when you look at how they work.

Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS): How They Work and How They Can Help

An ABS will assist you while braking. There is a sensor that monitors the speed of the wheels of your vehicle and, if a wheel lock is detected, the system will release and apply the brakes up to 20 times per second. Preventing your wheels from locking up will increase the amount of traction your vehicle has on the road and will help you maintain control of your vehicle.

Traction Control (TC): How It Works and How It Can Help You Stay Safe on the Road

While the ABS will keep your car from sliding while trying to stop, traction control will help keep your car from sliding while you drive. It is an active safety feature that helps maintain your vehicle’s traction by monitoring each tire in your vehicle and comparing the speed of the vehicle to the speed of each tire. The system will activate if it detects a tire spinning too fast and will automatically slow its speed to help regain traction. While these safety features are turned on by default, some cars allow the driver to disable them if you are stuck in the mud, sand, or snow. If you are stuck, turn off the traction control, this will allow your tires to dig through the snow, mud, or sand, and help you get out of the rut.

Other Features That Can Help You Stay Safe in Winter Weather

Check Your Tires

A lot of people don’t realize the importance of having good tires, especially in the snow. If your tires are worn or underinflated, they will not grip the road as well as they should. Before leaving, check the tread on your tires and make sure they have plenty of tread left. If you don’t have a tread depth gauge, you can do the “penny test.” Take a penny and put it in the tread of your tire with Lincoln’s head down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.

Keep Your Windshield Clear

When driving in the snow, it’s important to have a clear view of the road. Make sure you have plenty of washer fluid in your vehicle and use it often to clear the snow and salt from your windshield. If your wipers are leaving streaks, it’s time to replace them.

Use Your Heater

If your car is taking a while to warm up, turn on the heater to help defrost your windows. Don’t wait until you can’t see out of your windshield to turn it on, take it as soon as you get in the car.

Use Your Headlights

When driving in the snow, it’s important to let other drivers know where you are. Turn on your headlights as soon as you start your car, even if it’s during the day.

Use Your Turn Signals

When driving in the snow, it’s important to let other drivers know what you’re doing. Use your turn signals when changing lanes or turning.

Final Thoughts

Driving in the snow can be challenging, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to get home safely. Stay safe on the roads this winter!

Unfortunately, not everyone will be this cautious this winter and you may find yourself in a car crash through no fault of your own. Recovering after this type of accident can be difficult and navigating the legal processes of getting compensation can be even harder. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident due to winter weather, it may be difficult to prove who the negligent driver was and get the most out of your settlement.  Contacting a qualified personal injury lawyer with the experience needed to get you the help you need is essential to getting you the settlement you deserve.

Our top priority at Ashley Injury Lawyers is to ensure that our clients are getting the medical attention they deserve to recover properly from their injuries. Time is of the essence with personal injury cases, so don’t wait.

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident due to a negligent driver, depending on your situation, you may be entitled to compensation. contact Ashley Injury Lawyers in Roseville online or at 916-419-1111. Our 24/7 support service will assist you anytime to provide you with the best service.

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