Vehicle accidents are commonplace at all times of the year, but when the temperatures plummet below freezing and the ice has to be scraped off the windshield, then trouble is most likely brewing on the highway accident front.
Apart from negligent driving, a sudden change in weather contributes significantly to the chance of an accident occurring. Drivers aren’t ready and the vehicle has not been set up sufficiently for the long, cold, winter months ahead.
We are far more likely to get to our destination safely if we observe three important rules:
- Slow down
- Keep control
- Keep alert
Car care for winter
Think about preparing your vehicle well before the worst winter weather conditions start to bite. A maintenance check should be undertaken which includes checking
tire wear, tire pressure, belts and hoses, radiator, oil level, exhaust, defroster/heater, ignition operation, gas tank and brakes.
Ice and Snow
If the area you live in attracts ice and snow, chains or tires with winter treads on should be readily available. However, it is the driver’s behavior that ensures safe driving. When encountering ice and snow you should
- Drive more slowly – reduce speed to 50% of the speed limit
- Stop smoothly – don’t jam on the brakes
- Make turns smoothly – sudden turns could cause skids.
Tire condition in bad weather matters
When driving in winter conditions, the presence of rain, ice and snow markedly affect the vehicle’s braking distance. The tire traction is reduced, so the driver has difficulty in coming to a smooth stop. If the driver is not aware of this, then an accident could be the outcome. In order to have some sort of surety that the tires do maintain some traction, the driver should drive at a slower speed, maintain more than the minimum 3 seconds from the vehicle in front and, when driving around a bend, should slow down to half the speed that would normally be necessary if road conditions were average.
Apart from being aware of tire traction, tire pressure and tire condition are more of a concern in cold conditions. Tire pressure drops in the cold and rises in the heat. When the tires pressure is down, the car does not respond so well to steering. All drivers should check the pressure in their tires more frequently in the cold and keep them inflated to the recommended pressure level. If a tire tread is worn, be on the safe side and get it changed!
Black Ice can be dangerous
Roads are normally far cooler in areas that are in the shade and it is in these places that black ice is most likely to be encountered. All you can do in this situation is slow down.
General ice and snow safe-driving suggestions
When you drive off on a cold, snowy day:
- Test the road conditions by driving slowly and giving your brakes and steering control a test. When you get to a red light, slow down earlier than usual.
- Install snow tires, or preferably chains, as they are more effective.
- Match your speed to the road conditions that day.S speeds can vary and your tire traction too
- Don’t lock the brakes on ice, as steerage will be lost
- Keep a safe distance from the auto in front. Rear-end crashes are common in icy conditions.
- Clear your windows of frost before going out
- Keep a sharp lookout for black ice or potentially slippery areas such as bridges and areas in shade.
- Install snow blades on your windshield wipers, as they are more effective at clearing snow patches
- Check the vehicle’s thermostat, so that the correct heat reaches your defroster.
There are some measures that we can take on wintry days, but our judgment from past experience should indicate if the road conditions are really safe enough to drive on. If in doubt, wait for the weather conditions to improve unless, of course, you want to be included in road accident statistics.
Careless drivers cause more accidents in winter weather
Some of the worst accidents in the U.S. occur on busy highways, many of which could have been avoided if the driver had not acted carelessly and kept alert to road conditions. As road conditions are made worse in severe weather, these sorts of accidents are worse as well.
Multi vehicle pile ups are far more common in harsh, winter weather. If a driver was unable to detect traffic slowing ahead and then suddenly applies the brakes in slippery conditions, a rear-end collision could almost certainly be the result. Worse still, the driver behind may not be able to predict the event will have to brake suddenly as well.
He or she could then also smash right into the vehicle in front and so a multi-car pile up takes place. As well as damage to vehicles, there are also likely to be many injuries to their occupants as the sudden occurrence of changing road conditions means neither the drivers nor passengers were ready for the event. They may not even have time to think about bracing themselves when a jolting impact was likely.
If you think the road conditions are serious, don’t risk it and be another road traffic accident statistic.
Accident victims have rights. You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries, wage loss and medical bills. Contact an experienced Car wreck lawyer now for a free consultation.