Safe Driving in Winter
Winter driving in Ohio can be dangerous: the snow, ice, sleet, and rain create difficult driving conditions that can result in accidents, injuries, and even deaths.
While we can’t control the weather, we can help you stay safer in dangerous driving conditions.
We’ve compiled the most helpful tips to avoid a car accident this winter and outlined what to do if you are involved in an accident. We hope this information helps you!
Keep reading to get prepared for winter driving.
Prepare Your Car
In winter, safe driving begins even before you leave the driveway.
Here are a few things we recommend to prepare your car for winter driving:
- Take your car to be serviced. Having your car break down at any time of year is annoying, but you really don’t want to break down in the snow and ice! To avoid this, visit your mechanic to perform routine maintenance. Make sure that your car’s lights, hoses, cooling system, and defrosters are all in tip-top shape.
- Check for any recalls. Does your car have any recalled parts? You can find out by checking on the NHTSA website. If your car has a defective part, you can get it fixed for free and avoid problems down the road.
- Create an emergency kit. If you do become stranded in the snow, you’ll be glad you have this kit. Make sure to include bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, jumper cables, a flashlight, flares, and a cell phone charger. Also include kitty litter or sand (they increase traction in the snow) and a snow shovel and ice scraper.
- Replace your windshield wipers. Windshield wipers really take a beating in the winter from the snow and ice. You can ensure they work properly through the winter by replacing them now, in the fall. Also, fill up on windshield wiper fluid.
- Check your tires. The tires are your car’s only contact with the road, which is why it’s so important that they be in good shape. Make sure they have enough tread (2/32 of an inch) and that the wear is even. Also make sure that all tires are properly inflated: as the temperatures drop, so will your tire pressure. You’ll need to re-inflate them periodically.
- Check your battery. Like your car’s tires, the battery is adversely affected by the drop in temperatures: the battery power will drop, and it will require more power to start your vehicle. To avoid a dead battery, have it checked and replace it if necessary.
- Fill up the tank. Try to maintain a full or near-full tank of gas at all times. If you become stuck in traffic or moving slowly through a snowstorm, it might take more fuel than you anticipated to get home. Having a full tank can also help prevent a gas-line freeze-up.
- Check the weather. Before getting in the car—and especially before embarking on a long trip, check your local weather station for hazardous conditions.
Drive for the Weather
Winter weather conditions require you to drive differently than you would in the summer or fall.
Here is how we recommend you drive in the winter:
- Drive slowly. High speeds and snowy, icy conditions are a bad combination. You can easily lose control. Instead, slow down.
- Accelerate and brake slowly. Snow and ice make it harder for your tires to gain traction and grip the road. To combat this, go easy on the accelerator and brake pedals. This will help you avoid skids.
- Keep a greater following distance. It takes longer to stop on snowy, icy roads. If you’re following too closely, you risk rear-ending the person in front of you. Instead, increase your following distance to six to seven seconds. This will allow you to slowly brake and stop in time.
- Know your brakes. Does your car have anti-lock brakes? If it does, you can brake by applying firm, steady pressure to the brake pad. If it doesn’t, you may need to pump the brakes if you feel the wheels starting to lock up.
- Avoid stopping on a hill. When you can, avoid stopping on hills. If you do, you might get stuck or even move backwards.
What to Do after an Accident
Even those who are excellent winter drivers can get into a car accident—because not everyone else is a good driver!
If you are involved in an accident caused by another driver, here is what to do:
- Stop at the scene, and move to a safe area when possible. Never leave the scene of an accident. If you are in an unsafe area or blocking traffic, try to move to a safe place (like the side of the road).
- Get out of the car. When it’s safe to do so, get out of the car. It’s a good idea to set out emergency markers—especially in winter—so that other drivers are able to see you.
- Call 911 or the authorities. If anyone is injured, call 911 before you do anything else. If no one is injured, call the local authorities to the scene. We always recommend calling the authorities: even if the accident is minor, it’s important to have a police report when dealing with insurance companies. When the police arrive, cooperate with them, but avoid admitting fault.
- Ask for insurance and other information. Ask for the other driver’s name and insurance information. Get the make and model of the other car and the names of any passengers. Also, it’s a good idea to get the names and phone numbers of any eyewitnesses.
- Document the scene. As soon as you can, write down the details of the accident. How did it happen? Where did it happen? If you have a smartphone, take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and the accident scene. If you are injured, you will want to document your injuries as well.
- File an insurance claim. If you’re involved in an accident that results in damage and/or injuries, you’ll want to file an insurance claim.
- Contact an attorney. If another driver’s careless or negligent actions injured you, you may want to consider a personal injury claim.
Call Casper & Casper Today
We’re here to help you pick up the pieces after a serious accident. Our firm’s personal injury attorneys can help you determine if a personal injury claim is right in your case.
To learn more, contact us today for a free consultation.