While many of us would rather stay inside during the cold winter months, we still need to leave our homes for work, trips to the grocery store, holidays, and more. In the event you find yourself heading out with snow on the roads, or you get caught in a surprise snowstorm while traveling, it’s essential to know how to drive in the snow as safely as possible.
Auto accidents in the wintertime pose unique dangers that aren’t present the rest of the year. For example, if a crash happens in the middle of a severe snowstorm, it may take first responders like police officers and paramedics longer to arrive at the scene of the accident. Even short delays can have serious consequences—especially when someone has sustained injuries. In order to reduce your risk of an accident this winter season, let’s take a look at some tips for staying safe while driving in the snow.
Preparing for the Cold Weather
It’s unlikely you’ll be facing snow every time you travel in the winter months, but it’s important to be prepared for the cold weather. Prior to the cold months hitting, make sure you take your vehicle for a tune-up. You’ll want to ensure your brakes, tires, and fluids are in peak condition. If you do end up in poor weather conditions, you’ll have more control over your vehicle if it’s properly maintained. Also, make sure to always keep as least half a tank of fuel in your car.
In addition to keeping your car maintained, you’ll also want to keep it stocked with certain items. Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear, like blankets, hats, and gloves, extra food and water, a flashlight, a glass scraper, and any necessary medications in your trunk or the back of your vehicle. In the event you get stuck somewhere, you’ll have the supplies you need to wait comfortably until you can move or someone else comes to pick you up.
Tips for Driving in the Snow
If there’s snow on the road or you know a big storm is coming, start by asking yourself if you need to go out. If you can reschedule an appointment or work from home, it’s always better to stay off of the road if you can. If you can’t, start by driving slowly. You’ll need to adjust your speed to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
Remember to accelerate and decelerate slowly. Moving too quickly increases your chances of skidding or sliding. If you need to drive up or down a hill, take care to keep your speed steady and don’t stop. If you try to apply extra gas on snow-covered roads, it’s likely your wheels will spin. If you try to stop while going uphill, you’re more likely to slide and be unable to get the inertia going that you need to make it up.
Overall, remember to be prepared, check the weather, and let others know that you’re heading out. Inform them of your destination, route, and estimated time of arrival. If they don’t hear from you, they can take the necessary steps to make sure you’re okay.
What to Do If You Get Stuck in the Snow
Getting stuck in the snow can be scary, especially if you’re in the middle of a snowstorm. To reduce the risk of injury and getting into an accident, consider the following:
- Stay in your vehicle. Do not try to walk to a destination. Your vehicle provides shelter and makes it easier for you to be found. If you attempt to get out and walk in a bad storm, you may lose sight of your vehicle and become lost.
- Avoid overexerting yourself. If you think you’re able to dig your vehicle out, do so slowly. You don’t want to exhaust yourself, as that can be dangerous—especially in the cold.
- Be as visible as possible. If possible, tie a brightly colored cloth to your vehicle’s antenna or place a cloth in your window to signal distress. Keep the dome light on its dark. This only uses a small amount of energy, and it will make it easier for others to see you.
- Conserve fuel. If possible, only run the engine and your car’s heater long enough to remove the chill. If you conserve fuel, you won’t have to worry about not having heat at all or still being stuck when the snow has cleared.
- Stay warm. If you din yourself getting cold while conserving fuel, bundle up with your extra winter gear and blankets. In an emergency situation, you can use floor maps, newspapers, and other materials in your vehicle to insulate your body.
In the event you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of an accident in the snow, it’s vital to seek legal representation from Thomas Law Offices. Given the conditions at the time of your crash, it can be challenging to determine fault. If you believe someone else’s negligence caused your wreck, you’ll want strong legal representation so you have the best chances at making a full recovery. Contact us today to learn more.