Driving in winter weather can be dangerous.
Between low visibility and/or slippery roads, the potential for getting into a wreck is increased significantly. Along with the increased risk or accident comes the possibility being at fault for an accident. In many cases, the insurance company can claim that you were driving too fast for conditions. So an accident that wasn’t your fault, but was at least partially because of weather conditions, can potentially shift some of the fault to you.
So, how do you avoid accidents when driving in winter weather/conditions?
Here are a few suggestions from AAA.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated
Do not mix radial tires with other tire types
Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up
Avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy, and snowy weather where possible
Don’t use cruise control when driving on a slippery surface (wet, ice, snow, sand)
Wear your seatbelt
Tips For Driving in the Snow
Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving quickly. Take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly or as well as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly. The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
Know your brakes.
Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
Don’t stop if you can avoid it.
There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
Don’t power up hills.
Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
Don’t stop going up a hill.
There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate- If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
If you’re taking a long-distance trip, here are some additional tips:
Watch weather reports prior to leaving on your trip
(especially if you will be driving through isolated areas). If the weather looks like it will be especially bad, delay your trip. If you can’t delay, make sure you tell a few people what your route will be, and your estimated time of arrival.
Have your vehicle inspected
and make sure it is in peak operating condition before you leave.
Keep your gas tank half full.
Be prepared for the worst
– carry an extra cell phone, make sure you have emergency roadside assistance numbers available. Keep blankets, hats, food, water, and any medications in your car.
If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle.
It provides shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t walk in a severe storm. Blowing snow can make you lose sight of your car and become lost.
Don’t over-exert yourself trying to push or dig your car out.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna,
or at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on. It uses only a small amount of electricity and can help rescuers find you easier.
Make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t clogged snow, ice, or mud.
A clogged pipe can lead to deadly carbon monoxide to leak into the cab with the engine running.
If possible, only run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill.
This will help conserve gasoline.