For people who have lived in areas in which snow and ice are a regular occurrence during the winter, driving in these conditions may seem like second nature. However, despite experience and expertise gained over time, operating any motor vehicle in severe wintry conditions can prove dangerous and, in some cases, fatal.
Every year, thousands of drivers, passengers and pedestrians are killed due to accidents associated with winter storms. Residents of states where snowfall and ice are regular tend to observe normal driving safety procedures, but even some of these drivers find themselves in unexpected situations t
hat may result in severe injury or death.
According to the California Department of Transportation, a federally certified source regarding all aspects of transit in the state of California, individuals who travel via car or truck during the snowy winter months should prepare themselves for driving with the following safety methods before setting out on a trek through any potentially hazardous area in the state. These tips apply to all states and regions where snow, sleet and ice may present the possibility of a problem while operating a motor vehicle.
Preparing Your Vehicle to Weather a Winter Storm
- Always check your tires before driving – Tires that possess insufficient tread are far more likely to lose traction in wet, snowy and icy conditions. When a vehicle loses traction in this type of environment, even the most skilled and seasoned drivers may find themselves suddenly without control of their car or truck. The instinct to apply the brake immediately and to swerve in order to avoid collision can quickly backfire, leading to an even more serious crash. Ensure that tire tread is deep and, if tires show obvious signs of wear or baldness, have them replaced promptly.
- Ensure that snow chains are a good fit – Unfortunately, many drivers who are not familiar with the function of snow chains mistakenly opt for a size that does not match the tires equipped on their vehicles. This can result in not only damage to the car or truck itself, but sudden loss of control and the inability to steer or brake properly.
- Do not use the cruise control function – While long treks through mountains or long stretches of highway may tempt a driver to set the vehicle to cruise control, this mistake may potentially result in a dangerous situation. When the vehicle is commanded to maintain cruise control, the integrated computer defaults to normal driving conditions. If one or more tires lose traction, the vehicle will attempt to compensate by changing gears or accelerating. In ice or snow, this can result in unexpected changes in velocity and direction, often causing both minor and major accidents.
- Avoid panicking – The feeling of drifting across thick snow or an icy road can strike an intense feeling of panic and fear into the heart of even the most experienced drivers. Rather than follow the instinct that tells you to slam on the brakes, gently lift your foot from the brake when you realize that your vehicle is sliding. Calmly steer the vehicle in the direction that places you away from traffic, if possible. Engage your hazard lights and wait for the drift to end before continuing.
Wintertime, with all of its snow, holiday cheer and family time spent together, can be a joyous and carefree time of year. Safe driving is of chief importance and keeping these factors in mind throughout the season can help to make your winter a fun-filled and exciting time for the entire family.
If you have been the victim of a car accident caused by poor winter driving conditions, you may have a case. Scott C. Gottlieb a car accident injury law attorney, located in New York, is an experienced legal professional who can help car accident victims compensate for injuries they sustained in a car accident. For more information, visit the website at www.ScottGottliebLaw.com.