Winter Driving and Car Accidents
Winter is fast approaching and we did get quite a bit of snow yesterday in Fort Collins. So, we all need to think about how we can behave safely when driving in extreme weather conditions like snow and ice. Snow and ice can produce a lot of traffic accidents. Drivers are always in a rush to get somewhere and in hazardous weather conditions, it is the better practice to slow down and pay much more attention to the roadway and what other motorists are doing.
When I raced cars in my younger days, they taught us how to steer out of dangerous conditions and how to drive in slow motion if there is a hazard like ice or snow. You have to allow a much greater reaction time than when road conditions are dry and visible. Many times when driving in snow, you cannot see very far ahead. Thus, you need to drive slower and anticipate what may happen at any minute. Driving on ice is dangerous and your car could start sliding at any moment. Oftentimes, drivers will not see ice on the road and only know it exists when they lose control of their vehicle.
To prepare for winter driving, it is even more important to check your tire tread life and tire pressure. Tires are super important when driving in hazardous conditions. If you have the money, it is a good idea to switch to winter tires in the winter and then save your summer tires for dry conditions. You should also rotate your tires at every oil change so that the tire wear is evenly distributed. Make sure your tires are properly inflated as low air pressure can make you lose control, especially in winter conditions. In preparation for winter, change the fluids in your car (oil and antifreeze), inspect your battery and make sure your car’s heater is functioning properly. Make sure your windshield wipers are properly fit for winter. Many companies have different wipers to deal with the added strain of ice and snow.
When driving on ice or snow, what should you do? Black ice is basically invisible and you will not know you are driving on black ice until something happens. The best advice I can think of is to take it slow and steady. In other words, drive under the speed limit and be steady with the steering wheel as a jerky motion can send you into a spin. Again, move the steering wheel as if you are driving in slow motion. That way, you avoid the tendency to be jerky and dangerous. Once you start skidding, it is very difficult to control your vehicle, so the best practice is to avoid a skid in the first place by accepting the advice above.
How can you get out of a skid safely? If your rear wheels are skidding, then steer into the skid to safely regain control. If it is the front wheels that are skidding, try to drive in a straighter line instead of at an angle. If you are fortunate enough to have a newer car, then many of the newer cars have all kinds of safety features. Four-wheel drive is a great help in winter driving. Also, traction control and stability control will help you navigate through treacherous snow and ice.
Make sure you plan your routes when you know you will be driving in hazardous wintery conditions. For example, have your navigation system ready to go to your desired destination. Make sure your car is full of gas and that you have checked all fluid levels. Check your tire pressure. Make sure you have AAA or some other service that will help you if you become stranded on the side of the road. Finally, make sure your vehicle’s maintenance is up to date so that you do not become unnecessarily stranded in cold conditions.
If you are injured while driving in winter conditions, then you can call or email me and I can let you know if you do have a personal injury case. I am a top car accident attorney in Fort Collins ranked near the top for client satisfaction. Let me put my 22 years of experience to work for you. I only charge a 28% contingency fee which is much lower than most car accident attorneys. I can come to your house, office or hospital.
Be safe out there and above all, drive slow and steady and always wear your seatbelt.