Staying safe during treacherous winter driving conditions

This winter has already brought deep snow and dangerous road conditions that have resulted in deadly accidents and we have several weeks, possibly months, of winter left. Icy roadways and poor visibility create unsafe conditions for all drivers. When inclement weather hits, everyone on the road should remain alert and employ safety tips to try to prevent vehicle accidents this season.

According to PennDOT, there are certain tactics drivers can take to try to reduce their chances of being involved in a car accident. Namely, maintaining vehicles for winter weather, remaining extra cautious and being prepared in case of an emergency.

Maintaining your vehicle

Even though we are well into winter, it is not too late to make sure your vehicle is prepared for ice and snowy conditions. The best way to do this is to check all fluid levels and the functionality of your vehicle’s battery, brakes, headlights, wipers and defroster. It is also wise to make sure your tires are winter ready, this includes having weather rated tires that are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth. Snow tires or chains are also recommended in areas prone to getting heavy snow, according to Just Drive PA. A well-maintained vehicle can help you to safely navigate dangerous roadways when unexpected weather hits.

Stay cautious, alert and prepared

Icy conditions can be particularly dangerous; and drivers should be careful in areas inclined to have ice, like ramps or bridges. Also, roadways that look wet or areas that could have black ice, which can be difficult to spot. Black ice is most often formed during sleet, freezing rain or when snow is rapidly melting and refreezing. Under these conditions, it is wise to drive slowly and carefully.

It is also important to keep a look out for snowplows and to approach them cautiously. Cars can quickly lose control when hit with snow thrown from a plow. In addition, plows have low visibility and a wide turn radius. Smaller vehicles should stay back and avoid driving next to a plow.

Drivers should also employ extra safety precautions in general when traveling during poor weather conditions, such as:

  • Drive slowly and do not slam on the brakes
  • Do not tailgate and remain patient
  • Remove snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof and hood (Also required by state law)
  • Do not drink and drive or use your cell phone while driving

Lastly, stay home if possible when the road conditions are poor. If you must travel in wintery conditions, make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle. According to PennDot, an emergency hit should include food and water, batteries, a flashlight, a snow shovel, first aid supplies, a blanket, warm clothing, sand, jumper cables and any special supplies you may need like pet food or supplies for young children.

Even the most cautious and well-prepared driver can be involved in a car accident. If this occurs, it is important to remain calm and to contact and attorney experienced in personal injury matters. An accident may occur as a result of another driver’s poor maintenance or failure to prepare or drive safely in the snow and ice. If this is the case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact an attorney at McDonald & MacGregor, LLC, to discuss what occurred and learn more about your legal rights and remedies.