The Top Essential Winter Driving Tips to Prevent Accidents When the Temperature Drops
When winter settles in along with with cozy sweaters and holiday traditions comes hazardous weather. Heavy rain, ice, and snow can cause a quick trip down the road to become treacherous in an instant. Especially in the South, where many drivers are not as familiar with how to drive on icy roads, a beautiful winter day can quickly become dangerous.
Planning ahead and adjusting your driving behavior according to the conditions can go a long way in preventing an accident and sometimes even make the difference between a life and death situation. Studies show that 17% of all accidents occur during winter conditions.
No matter where you are traveling, before hitting the road you should always check the weather along your route so you know what to expect. Always use your seatbelt and check your vehicle before you leave to make sure everything is working properly. In particular, you should ensure that all of your lights work and your tires are properly inflated for winter driving safety.
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Wet Weather Driving Tips for Rainy Conditions
Rain is probably the most common challenging weather condition that a driver will encounter. In addition to reducing visibility, rain mixes with the oil on the road and causes the asphalt to be especially slippery for about 30 minutes until the rain can wash it away.
The biggest danger from driving in the road comes from hydroplaning. This happens when the treads on a tire cannot handle the heavy rain enough to displace it from the road, usually because the car is traveling too fast for the conditions. Once the car begins to glide on top of the water instead of the asphalt drivers often lose control. If your vehicle begins to hydroplane you should:
- Remain calm
- Continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go
- Take your foot off the gas pedal
- Avoid slamming on your brakes
Even if you avoid hydroplaning driving in the rain can still be dangerous. To keep yourself safe in wet weather, you should also follow these tips:
- Lower your speed and leave room between your vehicle and others on the road
- Make sure your wiper blades are working well
- Never use your cruise control in slippery conditions
- Avoid sharp turns and hard braking
- Use your headlights
Never drive into deep water. Especially in places like New Orleans where streets often flood, drivers must be careful not to drive into a situation their vehicle can’t handle.
How to Drive on Ice – the Essentials
National Safety Council’s Winter Driving Prep Info
Driving safely in icy conditions will require you to adjust your behavior. Although you will usually be able to tell if the roads are icy before you begin your trip, black ice that forms with no air bubbles can be difficult to see and especially dangerous. To reduce your chances of losing control of your vehicle on icy roads, follow these tips:
- Reduce your speed and increase your braking distance
- Leave extra room for the car in front of you
- Apply the gas and brake pedals more slowly than usual
- Remember that bridges often ice before roads so use extra caution on bridges even if the roadway doesn’t appear icy
If you start to slide, don’t panic. Over steering or slamming on your brakes can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Take your foot of the gas, keep steering in the direction you want to go, and remain calm until your vehicle has cleared the patch of ice.
Front Wheel Drive Vs Rear Wheel Drive?
RWD vehicles tend to have less traction in snow and ice, but they handle better than a front wheel drive. In contrast, FWD vehicles will have more traction in winter conditions, but will not be as nimble responding to steering and braking.
Driving in Snow – What You Need to Know
When people are not used to driving in snow, even just a few flurries can easily turn into a dangerous situation. Not only should you take steps to prevent an accident, but if you are driving in snowy conditions you also have to think about cold weather safety in case your car breaks down or your vehicle gets stuck in a remote location. Here are some important tips for staying safe on snowy roads:
- Reduce your speed. Even if your vehicle goes 5mph, it’s better than getting into an accident.
- Be prepared for hidden ice beneath a layer of snow
- Drive in the tire tracks of other vehicles
- Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times
- Don’t power up hills but instead try to gain inertia before you get to the hill
- Carry a shovel and bag of sand or litter in your car. You can try to dig out and use the sand for traction if your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
During winter road trips, you should also follow normal outdoor winter safety tips. For example, you should always dress warmly even for a short trip. It is also always smart to tell someone where you are going, what route you are taking, and when you should arrive. Try to make sure your phone is charged before you hit the road.
Winter Essentials – Vehicle Safety Kit
If you are driving in winter conditions you should make sure your car has a safety kit that includes:
- Blankets and warm clothes
- Cell phone and charger
- Flashlights and/or flares
- Food and water
- Jumper cables
Were You Injured in a Winter Driving Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a winter car accident, contact us for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency-fee basis. You may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress and further damages. Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a claim. An experienced attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process.
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