Winter is upon us and now is the time to prepare for driving through icy and winter conditions. Driving on icy roads can be dangerous, but there are steps you can take to ensure you, and your vehicle, are ready for these adverse road conditions. Following simple winter weather driving tips will help ensure that you and your family will get to your destination and back home safely during the winter season.
The key is to be aware and adapt to these conditions.
Preparing for your Trip in Winter Conditions
Safe winter driving begins before you even leave your driveway. Clear all snow and ice from the entire vehicle – hood, roof, trunk, windows, lights and signals. Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. Check your tires, wiper blades, fluids, lights, belts and hoses. Cold temperatures can lower tire pressure so make sure tires are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition. Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid a gas line freeze-up and in case you are stuck on the road as a result of an accident or detour. Pack blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle especially if you are taking a long trip. Other helpful items to pack include a windshield scraper and brush, battery booster cables, and emergency flares or reflectors.
Avoid Driving if Possible in Harsh Conditions
Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. The best thing to do in extremely bad weather is to stay off the road. This leaves the emergency services free to deal with emergencies on the road.
Driving on Icy Roads
Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle. Reduce your speed and look and steer where you want to go. Don’t get in a hurry and allow extra time to reach your destination. Give the car ahead of you extra space. Braking on a slippery surface requires more distance, so increase your distance with the car ahead. Do not use cruise control when driving on a slippery surface such as rain or ice. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Make smooth, careful movements by anticipating lane changes, turns and curves. If your vehicle starts to skid, steer into the direction of the slide. Make sure to drive slow and pay attention to the road, don’t allow your phone to distract you on icy roads.
Use extra caution on bridges, ramps and overpasses. These areas are likely to freeze first and stay frozen during a winter storm. Don’t power up hills. Try to get a little head start on a flat surface before you reach the hill and let that power carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible. Use lower gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
If Stuck on the Road in Winter Conditions
If you become snow-bound while on the road, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm because it is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost. Plus other drivers on the road will present a greater danger to you outside your car as a result of the icy conditions. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible, which will make it easier for rescuers to find you. Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.
If you are injured in an accident on icy roads, contact the experienced attorneys at Benjamin Law Firm at 816-322-8008 for a consultation. We will work with you and your family to recover the compensation you deserve.