Motor Vehicle Safety: Safe Driving Tips for the Winter Season

Author: Christopher B. Cloude

In the next couple of months we will have overnight freezing temperatures, sleet, freezing rain and maybe even some snow.  To make sure we arrive safely at our destination, we must alter our driving for these conditions.  Below are some driving tips for the winter season.

TEN TIPS FOR SAFE WINTER DRIVING:

1.  STAY HOME:

Don’t drive if you don’t have to – the safest place for us to be during a snowstorm or ice storm is at home.  During inclement weather, don’t take to the roads unless it is absolutely necessary.

2.  PREPARE:

Make sure your car is ready for the winter.  Clear all of the snow and/or ice from your windows so there is none obstructing your vision.  Make sure your tires are in good condition.  Make sure your engine fluids and gas tank are full.

3.  SLOW FOR CAUTION:

Drive more slowly.  Posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions.  Reduce your driving speed for the conditions.  Your vehicle will not stop quickly when the roads are covered with snow or ice.

4.  GET BACK:

Allow greater following distances during winter weather conditions.  Your vehicle will require more distance to stop so you should allow more distance between vehicles.

5.  SEE AND BE SEEN:

Turn on your lights.  Driving with your lights on increases your ability to see and increases your visibility to other motorists.

6.  USE YOUR BRAKES CORRECTLY:

If your vehicle was made after 1994, very likely  it is equipped with anti-lock brakes or ABS.  It is important that you check your vehicle to see if you have ABS.  If so, DO NOT pump your brakes as it could cause you to loose control.  If you do not have ABS you should pump the brakes to prevent the brakes from locking completely.

7.  STAY IN CONTROL:

If you have a rear wheel drive vehicle, to control a skid, you need take your foot off the accelerator pedal and counter steer until your vehicle is heading in the correct direction.  If you have a front wheel drive vehicle, to control a skid, you also need to remove your foot from the accelerator pedal until you feel the tires regain traction.  As traction returns, slowly turn the front wheels in the direction you want to go.

8.  A WET ROAD MAY MEAN ICE:

Be aware of black ice.  When moisture freezes on a roadway, it may just appear wet.  As a result, black ice is often not visible.  However, by paying attention to your surroundings you can predict were black ice may form.  Black ice will form on roads around lakes, rivers, tunnels, overpasses, and rural roads that may not be exposed to direct sunlight.  If you suspect you may be entering an area of the roadway that may be covered with black ice, slow your vehicle down and be prepared to control your skid.

9.  WEATHER CHANGES EVERYTHING:

Be aware that everything you do in your car will be affected by the conditions.  The most important thing to remember is to slow down.  Turn slowly, move slowly and brake slowly.

10.  EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED:

Carry an emergency kit in your car.  If the worst happens and you are stranded, you need to make sure you have the necessary items in your car.  For example, you should carry a First Aid kit, blankets, shovel, bag of sand, flashlight with extra batteries, extra warm clothing, and a cell phone or CB radio.

If you follow these tips, you should have a safe and enjoyable winter driving season.  And don’t forget – watch out for other drivers who may not be as conscientious or prepared as you are.

About the Author: Chris Cloude is a claims consultant with the Fredericksburg injury lawyers of Allen & Allen. Chris works with Fredericksburg car accident lawyer Edward Allen to assist clients with their car accident injury claims in Stafford, Garrisonville, Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas.