FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-11-28
Cold winter weather can often be accompanied by dangerous driving situations, and it is especially important to keep safety in mind when driving during the winter months. While driving in snow and ice can be nerve wracking, there are many precautions a driver can take to increase safety.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember during the winter months is that a person should only drive when it’s absolutely necessary. Avoiding driving when the weather is extreme is the easiest way to stay safe. However, if you must drive in winter weather, there are some extra measures you can utilize to lower your risk of being involved in a car accident.
Overall, it is important to drive at a lower speed than you normally would, and accordingly leave more time to arrive at your destination.
Maximizing visibility is just as important. Always use headlights in bad weather. In addition, ensure that the lights and windshield are clean before you drive. While you are doing that, also check the car’s fluids, oil, antifreeze and wipers for proper function before venturing out.
Be prepared for icy roads
Driving on ice can be very hazardous. Keep in mind that in cold weather, bridges and overpasses tend to be the first parts of the road to freeze. It is not a good idea to use cruise control or overdrive when roads are icy, and staying on low gears can help you keep traction. It may also be helpful to look to the owner’s manual for specific information about driving the car in bad weather.
Since roads can become very slippery, make sure you allow room to stop and keep extra distance between yourself and other vehicles on the road.
What to do when your wheels skid
Oftentimes, snow or ice on the roads will cause the wheels of your car to skid. To avoid skidding altogether, brake gently when slowing or coming to a stop. In the event that the wheels start to skid while on the road, it is important to know how to stay in control of the vehicle. If either your front or rear wheels skid, the first thing to do is to let off of the gas pedal.
If it is your rear wheels that are skidding, steer in the direction that the wheels are sliding. For example, if the rear wheels are causing the car to slide to the left, then a driver should turn the steering wheel to the left. If it is the front wheels that are skidding, don’t try to steer right away. Instead, shift the car into neutral and wait for the car to slow down and regain traction. When the tires traction back, then the driver can safely turn the wheel and put the car back in drive.
Despite safety preparations, accidents do happen
Keep these safe driving trips in mind throughout the winter season. For extra security, make sure to travel with a cellphone and emergency equipment that includes items such as a first aid kit, blanket, reflectors and material for traction like sand or cat litter.
Although these safety preparations are very important, the chances of accidents do increase in inclement weather, particularly if a motorist is driving negligently. A person involved in a crash should make sure to take pictures and secure witnesses if possible. Despite the conditions, if a person is injured due to the negligent actions of another motorist, they may be entitled to financial compensation. A Massachusetts personal injury attorney can help an injured driver understand their options and navigate the claims process.