Safe Driving in Ice and Snow
I used to expect most of our business as a motor vehicle accident law firm would be from winter accidents. Although there is an increase in the number of accidents in the winter months, the biggest factor contributing to accidents any time of year is operator error and inattentive driving. There are several things that all drivers should be especially aware of when driving in cold inclement weather conditions.
Maintain extra Following Distance
Rear end accidents are always a large category of accidents any time of year but they happen even more often when a driver misjudges the distance required to stop on a slick icy road. It is always a good practice to keep a safe following distance in any weather and it is even more important in the ice and snow. It is good to try to avoid tailgaters in traffic too.
Do not Drive Distracted
It is never a good idea to do anything that distracts significantly from driving. Eating and drinking should be done when you are stopped, not when you are behind the wheel. Allowing yourself to be too distracted by the radio or your telephone is a good policy. Hands-free Bluetooth radios and telephones help. If you need to place a call when you are in the call pull over and park in a safe place before dialing. Of course, texting and driving is never a good idea.
Impaired Driving is a Holiday Hazard
You do not have to be doing anything crazy like driving under the influence of illegal drugs to get into trouble. Holiday parties and family get-togethers often involve some drinking. Try not to get carried away and wait after consuming any alcoholic beverages before driving. Better yet, have a designated driver who does not drink.
Make sure other drivers can see you
It is a good idea to use your lights to make your own car more visible even during the day. This helps other drivers see you in rain or snowy conditions. Also be sure that your own visibility is not impaired by poorly cleared windows. Warm up your car thoroughly including getting the heater and defroster completely warmed up. Also be sure that the frost is completely cleared from your windows. Don’t be the person who got lazy and only scraped a small hole to peer out through. You need your peripheral vision too.
Plan to be safe in the cold
Any time that you have an accident or slide off an icy road, you can quickly be put in a dangerous situation. Obviously, an accident is a dangerous time when you are likely to be injured. Even if you were not injured in the accident the hazards of being stuck outside on a very cold day deserve some planning and preparation. If you are not wearing a thick jacket with gloves and a hat already, warm clothing should be stored in the car all winter long. I have known people who make a habit of skipping warm clothes when they expect to be in an out of the car quickly. That might work normally but it is a problem if you are stuck outside because of car problems or an accident. It is always a good idea to have a shovel and sand to get unstuck if you get stuck on an icy road. Also never forget your cellular telephone so that you can call for help.