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Driving in wintertime can be stressful and inconvenient. Worsening weather conditions require motorists to drive with greater alertness and defensiveness than in summertime. Not surprisingly, snow and ice on the streets increase the likelihood of accidents and other road-related problems, especially when drivers are oblivious to the potential risks of the weather. Here are some tips for driving safely in winter that will help you prepare for the coming months and the snow they will bring!
Although checking and replacing tires is inconvenient and expensive, ensuring that your car is fitted with the proper tires to take on whatever conditions befall your area is extremely important for driving safely in the snow. In fact, Consumer Reports noted that “More than half of Canadian drivers install winter/snow tires on their cars, and they see a real benefit. There are fewer winter-related accidents, injuries, and deaths when cars are required to be fitted with winter/snow tires, a Quebec-based study found.” Knowing that there is a distinctive difference between driving with and without snow tires, it is the responsibility of every defensive driver to minimize the risk of slipping or accidents for both themselves and the motorists on the road around them.
Having to go outside and scrape the snow off of a car or wait freezing in the driver’s seat for the interior to heat up is a hassle, but this annoyance is not the worst part about parking a car outside in winter. In a report about the downsides of parking outside, AccuWeather states that “Under-inflated tires do not perform well and are subject to damage or failure especially in snow and icy conditions.” With this said, especially for families with multiple cars or in crowded cities with limited garage space, heated inside parking can be scarce. Still, if possible, one of the best safe winter driving techniques is to keep your car warm and sheltered from the elements.
Even on days when you’re running out the door and rushing to get to work on time, do yourself a favor and stay stationary until your windshield is fully clear and you are at 100% visibility on all sides. Regardless of how frustrating it might be to sit around and wait for the snow and ice to melt away, remember that by not taking the time to defrost the car you areputting yourself at a much higher risk of getting into an accident (which will obviously make you later to work and may even cause injuries). Safe driving in the winter means being patient and taking all necessary precautions!
Although plowed roads are often busier than side streets during rush hour, the increased difficulty of driving safely in the snow means that taking the beaten path will often lead to faster travel and a safer journey to your destination. The US Department of Transportation explains that “Over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement annually.” Knowing just how much more dangerous these conditions make the road (even if it just seems a little snowy or a little icy), try to stay on the cleared roads whenever possible to minimize driving risk.
One of the first things every new motorist learns in drivers ed is that bad conditions should lead to slower speeds. Yet, all too often, experienced winter drivers ignore this rule. The importance of driving slowly in bad weather conditions cannot be overstated. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that “You should reduce your speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by 1/2 or more on snow packed roads (i.e., if you would normally be traveling at a speed of 60 mph on dry pavement, then on a wet road you should reduce your speed to 40 mph, and on a snow-packed road you should reduce your speed to 30 mph).” Even if this seems extreme, safe driving during winter means taking it slow, even if you have to drive significantly below the posted limit for ideal conditions.
Although safe winter driving tip #4 suggests staying on main roads when the snow starts falling, this does not mean the highways are the best way to travel in sketchy weather. The sight of a car skidding off the road in winter conditions is as common as it is unsettling, and it is easy to lose control of a vehicle when moving quickly down a snowy road. Even if you lower your freeway speed in wintery weather, the motorists around you may be sticking to the higher speed limits, thus increasing the possibility of chain-reaction accidents. Avoid being a part of a high-speed accident by staying on mid-sized streets when road conditions get rough.
Ice patches can be difficult to spot when operating a moving vehicle, so safe winter driving requires a higher degree of alertness. Icy Road Safety via a National Weather Service Study reports that “The average icy road fatality count is 3.6 times the total deaths from all other weather hazards combined.” This frightening statistic should command an elevated awareness from motorists trying to avoid skidding and collisions. While keeping your focus on the cars ahead of you, try to avoid going over any slippery patches that could cause your tires to lose traction.
When driving during the winter, prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. On the off chance that your car is unable to start, or you get into an accident while it is cold or snowy outside, you will want to be as warm as possible while you wait for your predicament to be resolved. Keep an extra coat, hat, and gloves in your car if possible so that any unfortunate circumstances you find yourself in are not compounded by the cold.
After reading through these winter driving safety tips, you are now more prepared to deal with the conditions that might befall your area as the holiday season comes around. If you or a loved one is injured in a vehicular accident, be sure to contact Nurenberg Paris for a free consultation regarding the compensation to which you may be entitled.
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