On cold, snowy days, the last thing most people want to do is get behind the wheel of an automobile. Even if you are a skilled winter driver, you know that not everyone else on the road has the same know-how. However, by following some basic but important winter driving tips, you can stay safe on the road this winter.
According to PennDot, winter 2014-2015 brought 552 crashes, 279 injuries, and 4 deaths in Pennsylvania where aggressive driving was a factor. Each year 116,000 Americans are injured and 1,300 die in car crashes on snowy, slushy and icy roads according to Safe Winter Roads. Unfortunately, driving in winter weather is not a choice for many Pennsylvanians. If you have to get to work or take your kids to school, your only option may be to drive. Consider these winter driving tips next time you head out to brave the storm.
Winter Driving Tips – Prepare Your Vehicle and Yourself
You can make driving in winter safer for you and your family by doing some basic preparations on your vehicle. PennDot suggests creating an Emergency Travel Kit with supplies that could literally save your life in a winter storm. Pack a box with these items and carry them in the trunk of your car at all times:
- Flashlight and batteries
- Jumper cables
- Snow shovel
- Matches and candles
- First aid supplies
- Extra warm winter clothing and gloves
- Ice scraper
- Bottled water and non-perishable food
- Battery operated radio
To winterize your car, check that your windshield wipers function well, fluid levels are high, and that your heater and defroster are working. Other important winter driving tips include checking tires for tread depth and air, and consider buying snow tires if you live in a region that has heavy snowfall. Be sure your gas tank is at least half full in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to have basic maintenance done on your vehicle before the winter season hits. Remember to never leave your vehicle running in an enclosed space, and check the tailpipe for snow, ice, or mud obstructing the opening.
To help prepare yourself for driving in winter, check weather reports before you hit the road to avoid an unexpected storm. The website www.511pa.com (or calling 511 from any cell phone or landline) is an excellent round-the-clock resource to find out about road conditions, crash updates, or delays.
Always let a loved one know where you are going and when you plan to return, and keep your cell phone fully charged (a car-charger is always a good idea as well). Driving in foul weather is stressful, so getting plenty of sleep can help you to stay alert. Of course it goes without saying that wearing your seat belt is the best first line of defense.These important winter driving tips can mean the difference between life and death.
Winter Driving Refresher Course
When confronting winter roads, the first rule is to drive slowly and increase your following distance in case you have to stop quickly. It is much safer to stop and turn on icy, slushy roads when your vehicle is moving at a slow pace.
Other reminders for winter driving tips offered by PennDot and AAA:
- Don’t drive at all if possible.
- Roads that appear wet can actually be covered with “black ice” — exercise extreme caution when the roads look wet in winter.
- Avoid using cruise control in bad weather.
- Remove ice and snow from lights, windows, and mirrors as many times as needed throughout your trip.
- Always remove snow from the hood of your vehicle before you get on the road.
- If you have ABS breaks, remember that the pedal may vibrate if the ABS system is activated.
- Don’t try to stop when driving uphill — you could get stuck or slide. As you reach the top of the hill, be sure to decelerate.
- Avoid stopping completely if you can help it, as it is easier to start again if you keep your wheels rolling somewhat.
- Keep headlights on and low-beams only in heavy snowfall.
Winter Driving Tips – In Case of an Emergency
If you need assistance or get into an accident, stay in your vehicle and call for help. In a storm it can be easier than you think to get lost or lose sight of your vehicle, and other drivers might not see you if you exit your vehicle. If you are obstructing traffic and it is possible to move your vehicle to safety, do so, but proceed with caution.
Once you are in a safer spot, turn your engine off, put on your extra-warm clothes, and only run the engine every hour or so to warm up. Turn your hazard lights on. Keep a window cracked and check your tailpipe for obstruction regularly. Keep the dome light on your vehicle on as it can assist rescuers in finding you. If you have safety triangles or road flares, it would be helpful to use them at this time. If not, tie a bright piece of cloth to your antenna so that your car is as visible as possible.
Personal Injury Lawyers Available To Help
If you need a lawyer after a winter car accident (or any car accident), the attorneys at Donaghue & Labrum are only a phone call away. Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience handling car accident cases. We know the stresses involved when personal injury becomes a reality, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive the maximum compensation for their suffering.
Don’t put off asking for help — the sooner you call, the sooner we can take care of the details and you can focus on healing. Our offices in West Chester and Media, PA are conveniently located and serve the greater Philadelphia area. Call today for a free consultation.