Avoiding Accidents During Winter Conditions

by Jeffrey J. Kroll

With Mother Nature rearing her ugly head, there is plenty of snow and ice on the ground. A question you need to ask yourself is, “do I need to change my driving habits when winter weather comes to town?” If not, you should, and here are some reasons.

According to the American Highway Users Alliance, well over 100,000 injuries occur annually from vehicle crashes due to icy or snowy pavement. Here are some tips to keep in mind when the temperature is low and the streets are snowy/icy.

  • Reduce your speed and allow yourself to have an adequate amount of time to arrive at your location. Human nature forces us to accelerate, speed up, or make unnecessary lane changes when we are running behind. In these winter months, it is safer to leave ahead of time and give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your location. The more cautious you are with your speed, the less dangerous a skid or inability to stop will be on wet pavement.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Road conditions can change quickly on wet roads. It is important to proceed with caution. When you slowly accelerate and/or decelerate, it prevents your tires from spinning out of control.
  • Ensure you know the temperature. Do not rely on the car’s temperature gauge to determine the conditions of the roads. Be alert to ice on windshield wipers, outside mirrors, road signs, or trees as an indicator of what the roads may be like.
  • Stay in your lane. Avoid lane changes and attempt to veer away from the shoulder of the road where ice will typically accumulate. Similarly, it is a very dangerous practice to pass vehicles when it is snowy or icy outside.
  • Increase following distance. A good rule of winter driving is to keep ten times the following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you when on icy roads. Increasing your following distance can also give you time to maneuver around ice patches if you observe cars sliding or having difficulty keeping their cars under control.
  • Steer into a skid. If you notice your vehicle sliding, take your foot off the gas pedal, and turn your steering wheel in the same direction as the back of your car is sliding. This will enable you to straighten out your vehicle.
  • Be careful on bridges. As most signs suggest, bridges freeze faster than the nearby roads. Therefore, be extra cautious and proceed slowly on any overpasses or bridges.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a motor vehicle accident due to icy or snowy conditions, please feel free to contact the auto accident attorneys at Kaveny + Kroll, (312) 761-5585, for a free consultation.