Driving in the spring and summer can feel more carefree than other times of the year because the days are longer and the risks for major snowstorms are little to none. The highest chance for this kind of weather is in the wintertime, and the roads can get extremely dangerous when conditions quickly deteriorate. There are ways to plan for the winter season plus tips to remember when on the road this time of year.
Prep Your Car
In the winter, your car requires some preparation. Make sure that your tires and battery are in good working order, and top off your antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids. You will also need to clean your headlights and taillights and fill up the gas tank when possible. It is always a good idea to have the following in your car during the winter season as well:
- Jumper cables.
- Sand or cat litter.
- A snowbrush and ice scraper.
- Warning devices like flares.
Recent winter storms have left people stranded for hours, and this is a difficult and dangerous situation. That is why it is a worth your time to put blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable food in your trunk in case you encounter an emergency. Also, be sure to have an extra cell phone charger in your vehicle.
Look at Traffic and Weather Reports
Traffic and weather reports provide valuable information for drivers any time of the year, and they are especially important when there is a threat of bad winter weather. If a major snowstorm is predicted, the safest course of action is nonaction: stay home and wait it out.
Have an Alternate Route
You might want to plan an alternate route if traffic is reported. Your GPS can do this for you, however, you should remember some safety concerns. In bad winter weather, less-traveled roads might not get salted or plowed.
Remove Snow and Ice From Your Vehicle
If you are parked outside, be sure to remove any snow or ice that has accumulated on your vehicle. This is important for your safety and the safety of other motorists on the road. You do not want to obstruct your vision, and you do not want accumulation falling off your vehicle and striking another car.
Back Into Your Driveway
Backing into your driveway when returning home is another good winter safety tip. This way, you will have a clearer view and will not have to make an additional maneuver on a slippery road. Check for pedestrians and pets on sidewalks, streets, parking lots, and other driveways before pulling out.
Have a Safe Following Distance
The importance of slowing down in winter driving conditions cannot be emphasized enough. You will need more distance between other vehicles since it takes longer to stop in poor winter conditions. You should increase your following distance to at least eight to 10 seconds. Do not tailgate, and avoid driving right next to motorists in adjacent lanes as well.
Drive at a Safe Speed
Your tires have less traction on slippery surfaces, which is another reason to drive below the posted speed limit. The worst thing to do in these bad weather conditions is to speed.
Use Your Car’s Safety Features
All-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive will help in bad weather, but you cannot rely on these systems completely. The same holds true for advanced safety systems, like rearview cameras and lane assist. These help drivers, but they are not a substitute for defensive driving. Additionally, cruise control should not be used when the roads are slippery because it might not turn off fast enough to avoid a car accident.
Other Tips to Remember
Other safety tips include:
- Do not drive while intoxicated.
- Do not eat or drink when driving.
- Driving when fatigued is dangerous, so be well-rested and take breaks on longer excursions.
- Give yourself extra time to reach your destination.
- Keep your seat belt on at all times.
- Put your cell phone on Do Not Disturb mode.
What Should I Do in a Winter Weather Emergency Situation?
Skidding on an icy road is frightening, but if you remain calm, you might be able to safely maneuver yourself out of it. Instead of hitting your brakes, take your foot off the gas and turn into the skid. Do not overcorrect the turn, and let your car glide to a stop. Take a breath, and continue on your way.
If you stall or are stopped in winter weather, remain with your car, and turn on hazard indicators as well. Check your exhaust pipe, and if it is blocked with snow, remove it immediately. Keep the engine off as much as possible, turning it on occasionally for a few minutes to warm up. It is dangerous to keep it running for too long with the windows up, so keep that in mind.
Wilmington Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Safe Winter Driving
Driving in the wintertime is not that intimidating when the skies are clear and the roads are dry, but things can quickly become treacherous during and after storms. If you have been injured in an accident and need legal help, speak with our Wilmington car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at (302) 427-9500. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.