By: Allan M. Siegel
Winter is here and Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. would
like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. During this time
of year, we unfortunately see a number of traffic accidents caused by
poor weather, and we want to remind all local drivers about the importance
of taking extra precautions when driving during the winter. Below are
a few helpful winter driving safety tips.
Your Car – Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter roads and in good shape.
Take it in for a checkup, or make sure to check your car battery, tires,
defroster, and windshield wipers. AAA recommends drivers put no-freeze
fluid in the washer reservoir and check antifreeze.
Things to Have – Keep certain things and safety equipment in your vehicle, just
in case. Keep a flashlight, jumper cables, ice scraper or snow shovel,
kitty litter or sand, warning devices, and blankets on hand. If you're
going on a long trip, be sure to bring along food and water, medications,
and a cell phone – and to keep at least half a tank of gas at all times.
Plan for Emergencies – Have a plan in case of emergencies. If your car is stopped or
stalled, make sure it's pulled over as far as possible. Stay in the
car and keep your hazard lights on to stay visible. If you run your car,
clear the exhaust pipe and run it only enough to keep warm and conserve gas.
Be Smart – Prepare for your trips by giving yourself the necessary time,
checking the weather, and planning your route. Also make sure you're
well rested and not intoxicated. Tired or impaired drivers can spell disaster
on winter roads.
Give Plenty of Space – Stopping distances increase on wet or icy roads so make sure you
give extra space when following cars during the winter. A normal following
distance of 3 to 4 seconds should be increased to at least 8 to 10 seconds.
Also look ahead for stoplights and stop signs to give yourself plenty
of time to slow to a stop.
Practice Driving – If you have a novice driver or just want to brush up to be safe,
consider practicing winter driving by visiting an empty lot after a storm.
You can practice braking, getting out of skids, and get a better feel
for your car on winter roads.
Slow and Steady – Wet or snow-covered roads can be unpredictable. Make sure to accelerate,
decelerate, and drive slowly and carefully, as this can help you avoid
skids. Anticipate stops and turns whenever possible.
Dealing with Hills – Hills can be intimidating in the winter, but there are ways to deal with
them safely. Don't apply too much gas when nearing a hill, instead
build up inertia and let it carry you up the incline. Make sure to reduce
speed at the top and go down the hill slowly.
Know How to Stop and Maneuver – Know how to stop, especially when roads are icy. With anti-lock
brakes, the best method is to apply firm, constant pressure to the brake
pedal. If your vehicle doesn't have anti-lock brakes and the wheels
lock, release pressure from the brake and re-apply gently. When it comes
to skidding, experts recommend letting up on the gas pedal and turning
in the direction you want to go. Be careful of over-correcting and wait
to re-apply pressure on the gas until you are safely headed in the other
These tips can help you and your passengers stay safe when driving on wet,
snow, or ice-covered roads. Again, winter months generally see more
car accidents than other months of the year, so always make the act of driving your
first priority. Negligent behaviors such as text messaging only increase
the risk of wrecks – and negligent drivers can be held accountable
for any harm they cause victims. You can learn more about safe winter
driving and watch helpful videos by visiting the
AAA YouTube page.