The transition from fall to winter brings more than just holiday festivities and cozy sweater weather; it also ushers in a season of potentially treacherous driving conditions. Snow, sleet and ice can make roads slippery and unpredictable, increasing the risk of vehicular accidents. In fact, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that 24% of all car accidents happen on snowy, slushy or icy roads and that the risk of fatal car crashes increases by 34% in the winter.
While you cannot control the weather, you can take steps to safeguard yourself, your passengers and other drivers when winter rears its frosty head.
Equip your car for winter conditions
Before winter sets in, make sure your vehicle is in top condition. Check your tires to ensure they have adequate tread. Ensure you use snow tires or chains as necessary. Ensure your brakes, lights and wipers work effectively. A well-maintained car responds better to sudden stops and decreases the chances of unforeseen problems.
Drive slowly and maintain a safe distance
Speeding on icy or snow-covered roads is a recipe for disaster. Always drive at a speed that allows you to have control over your vehicle, even if this means going below the speed limit. Increase the distance between your car and the one in front of you. This extra space gives you more time to react in case you need to stop suddenly.
Avoid sudden maneuvers
On slippery roads, sudden moves can lead to skidding. Always make slow, deliberate movements whether you are changing lanes, turning or braking. If you do find your car skidding, steer in the direction you want to go, and try to stay calm.
Stay informed about the weather
Before you head out, check the weather forecast. If the forecast predicts severe weather, consider whether you truly need to be on the road. If you can, postpone your trip until conditions improve.
Winter driving poses challenges, but by taking proactive measures, you can navigate the season safely. By knowing what steps to take when driving in winter weather, you will not only protect yourself but also contribute to safer roads for everyone.