Winter is officially in full swing, leaving millions of Americans to enjoy the cozy, ethereal beauty of icicles and gentle snowfall. While it may sound like a winter wonderland, snow and ice aren’t necessarily all nice all the time. Life doesn’t stop during the winter and driving on snowy, icy, or slushy roads can be extremely dangerous. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of all weather-related automotive crashes occur on snowy, icy, or slushy roads and 13 percent occur during snowfall or sleet conditions every year. If you think you won’t have to deal with wintery conditions on the road in your area, you may want to think again. Nearly 70 percent of Americans live in a region that receives at least 5 inches of snowfall per year and an equal amount of America’s roadways travel through these areas of the country, meaning you’re more likely than not to experience a wintery drive at some point. Protect yourself, your family, and other drivers on the roads this winter by following three simple steps – prepare, maintain, and practice.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The same holds true for driving in wintery conditions. Preparing your vehicle before you head out on potentially icy roads can be the difference between a leisurely drive and a disaster.
- Pack an emergency kit – You never know when you’ll be stranded from one reason or another. Make sure your car is stocked with everything you need to withstand an emergency tune-up to get you where you need to go or a freezing day on the side of the road. Pack a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, salt, and either cat litter or sand to get yourself out of a pinch midwinter. If you need to hang tight and wait for help to arrive, keep gloves, a hat, a scarf, food, water, a cell phone, and blankets on hand. If you are stranded, tie something bright to the antenna, stay in your car, and make sure your exhaust pipe in clear of snow or ice before running the heat for short intervals.
- Make a plan – Before you head out during winter, check the weather and traffic conditions on the way. Use this information to plan your route to your destination so you can best avoid icy patches, uncleared roads, or traffic collisions.
- Tune up your car – Your vehicle requires many functions to ensure it gets you from point A to point B safely, especially with a winter storm rolling in. Take your car to the mechanic to check your battery’s charge and tire tread, replace your windshield wipers, and fill up on fresh oil and antifreeze. This will keep your vehicle running smoothly even in the coldest conditions.
- Get familiar with worst case scenario – Sounds crazy, right? Don’t judge it until you’ve lived it, though. Many drivers have no clue what to do when they hit an ice patch and skid or become stuck in snow. Try practicing winter driving in an empty parking lot during the day. Drive yourself into a controlled skid and practice how to respond. Slam on and pump your brakes to learn how your car reacts to input. Get familiar with your car’s braking distance (hint: it’s a lot longer than you think) and how to slowly back yourself out of a snowdrift with sand or cat litter.
Let McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, Fight for You in the Inland Empire
Winter driving may seem easy enough until you’ve tried it yourself. Unfortunately, too many drivers aren’t as concerned about preparing themselves for the dangers of snowy or icy drives and weather is no excuse for negligent behavior on the road. The personal injury attorneys of McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, are here to assist you when you become the victim of another driver’s negligence. We have a long history of success in these matters including a $16.5 million verdict for a drunk driving case and a $11 million verdict for catastrophic injuries during an auto accident. We care about the safety and rights of you and your family. Let us work for you. If you are the victim of an automotive crash due to another driver’s negligent behavior on the road, contact us today or call (909) 345-8110.