Safe Driving Tips for the Winter Months

Jan 18, 2021 11:26 AM EST | Ernest Hamilton

Safe Driving Tips for the Winter Months

(Photo : Safe Driving Tips for the Winter Months)

The winter months bring with them situations that can make driving challenging. The snow and ice can make roads very dangerous, especially for those who are not used to driving in these conditions. All it takes to cause an accident is losing control of your vehicle for a second on an icy street. Fortunately, by following these safe driving tips, you can reduce your chances of having an accident. 

Eliot M Houman of Long Beach Firm The Accident Guys, "We often see an uptick in vehicle accidents during the winter months. This can be attributed to the time change, and the winter weather as driving conditions can be brutal during these months."

Reduce Your Speed

The first thing you should do when driving on roads covered with snow or ice is to reduce your speed. Your tires will not be able to grip the road as well, which means they won't be able to stop as quickly. Reducing your speed will help you come to a complete stop more quickly. You especially want to reduce your speed when coming down a hill so you can control your descent better.

Start Decelerating Sooner

Even if you are driving slower than you normally would, you still need to start decelerating sooner than you normally would. It will take you more time to slow down when there's ice on the street. When driving on ice, remember that trying to come to a sudden stop may not always be possible. Instead, apply slow and steady pressure to the brakes. Don't stop down on them and expect results. 

You also need to accelerate more slowly than normal. Since your tires can't get a good grip on the icy road, you won't be able to take off as quickly as you usually do. If you try, your tires may spin out, causing you to lose control.

Leave More Space Between You and Other Drivers

You need to leave more space between you and the other cars on the street so you have plenty of time to stop if you need to. This extra space also gives you time to react if the car in front of you spins out of control. A good rule of thumb is to put about six seconds' of braking time between you and other vehicles. 

Steven Perez a Fire Captain with CalFire explains, "Sothern California drivers seem to drive the same way no matter the road conditions. Drivers need to leave more space between them and the vehicle in front. All too often the accident scenes we are called to are preventable with safe driving."

Check the Weather Before You Leave

Before getting in your car, be sure to check the weather forecast and get a good idea of what you're going to be dealing with. If it looks like it's going to start snowing, you may want to put off your excursion if you can. If you're going to be taking a trip, look at how the weather may change along the way. You may need to plan an alternative route. 

Also remember that driving at night greatly reduces your visibility and can make it much more difficult to see ice on the roads. Any ice and snow that has melted during the day will also start to re-freeze, creating new patches of ice in areas that may have been safe just a few hours earlier. 

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Finally, while you should always be aware of your surroundings while driving, it's even more important to do so during the winter. Watch the cars in front of, behind, and to the sides of you as much as possible. Reduce distractions-don't fumble for your phone, put on makeup, or do anything else that requires you to take even one hand off the wheel.

What to Do If You Get in an Accident

If you do have an accident in the winter, you want to make certain you have an emergency kit with you. This should include a blanket to keep you warm in case it takes rescuers some time to get to you. Also carry a brightly colored flag or piece of cloth you can tie to your antenna or hang out of the window. This makes it easier for others to find you, especially if you have a white car. Keep warm, try to conserve your cell phone, and don't go walking in the cold if you can avoid it.

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