Winter is here, and while the season’s snowfalls can be beautiful, they can also create hazardous driving conditions. Snowstorms and sleet can reduce visibility, and icy roads make it harder for motorists to maintain control of their vehicles. With the risks winter driving poses, you may wonder whether it is safest to hunker down at home all season long. Yet, by taking proper precautions, you can travel through most types of winter weather safely.
Make sure your vehicle is ready
Winter driving is safest when your vehicle is prepared for the season. Yet, many people fail to perform routine maintenance on their automobiles, which can lead to trouble or danger. To avoid these outcomes, you must:
- Charge your vehicle’s battery
- Check your vehicle’s coolant level and refill it as needed
- Check your vehicle’s tires to make sure they have enough tread, and swap them for snow tires as needed
- Make sure your vehicle’s exhaust pipe is clear
- Make sure your vehicle’s lights are working and clean
- Switch your vehicle’s oil to a thinner variant (oil thickens in winter)
- Switch your vehicle’s windshield wiper fluid to one containing anti-freeze
If you get into an accident – or if your vehicle breaks down – in the cold or during a storm, you will want to make sure you have emergency gear on hand. By leaving a blanket in your vehicle, you can keep yourself warm if you need to wait for help. By carrying warning devices, like flares, you will make it easier for other motorists to spot you. And by putting a shovel and a bag of sand – or other abrasive material – in your trunk, you will be prepared to dig your vehicle out of the snow if you need to.
Adjust your driving for conditions
Winter is not the season to zoom down the highway, and you will need to adjust your speed for surfaces covered by ice and snow. You will also want to keep a greater distance from other vehicles than usual, in case you need to avoid causing an accident or becoming part of a collision or spin-out ahead of you. Furthermore, you will want to treat bridges and overpasses with caution. These structures have no way to trap heat, which causes them to freeze faster than other roads.
Even if you do your best to stay safe on the road during winter, it is possible – through no fault of your own – that another motorist could collide with you. If this happens, you will want to consult a personal injury attorney to determine what recourse is available to you.