Driving during the winter presents its own unique set of challenges. The lack of traction and lower visibility during snowstorms can increase the frequency of accidents. The Chicago car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC have some tips for staying safe during winter driving conditions. Here are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in a car accident this winter:
- Slow Down: Everything happens a bit slower in the snow. Speeding up and slowing down takes longer because of reduced traction in the snow. If the pavement is icy in spots, this is even more important as even all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles cannot handle on ice. Keeping your speed appropriate to the wintry conditions will give you more time to react and reduce your stopping distance, critical to keeping you safe on snowy or icy pavement. If you have younger drivers, this is also the single most important piece of information you can impart to them for driving in snowy conditions.
- Ensure Your Vehicle is Ready for the Conditions: Snowy conditions reduce traction. You will need to make sure that your vehicle’s tires and brakes are ready to handle the more challenging conditions prior to the first snowfall, which in the Chicago area is on average November 17. Brake pads and rotors should be checked ideally at every service interval for your vehicle, and tires should also be checked for wear. Tires that are past their useful life will have even less traction in snowy conditions, so consider upgrading your tires if you plan to drive often in snowy weather. Also, inspect your spare tire to ensure that it’s in good working condition. If you need to change a tire out in the snow, don’t get caught with a flat spare. Lastly, it’s important to keep your wiper blades current. They will help keep snow and ice from accumulating on your windshield and will help keep visibility at the highest levels possible during a snowstorm.
- Pay Extra Attention: Although speeds are generally lower in snowy weather, you will need more time to react to other drivers and road conditions because you need more space to slow down. Slamming on the brakes can lead to sliding and losing control of your vehicle. Looking for potential issues, giving others plenty of space, and giving yourself plenty of time to stop or maneuver your vehicle will help to prevent an accident from happening.
- Get Rid of Excess Snow: While this sounds quite simple, many drivers do not clear snow off their vehicles before driving. Especially if your car does not have a rear defroster, it is important to ensure that snow is brushed off all windows on your car before driving. If you’re driving in snowy or icy conditions, be sure to have your defroster on to keep snow or ice from accumulating on your windshield.
- Learn the Correct Driving Techniques for Hills: If you need to go out in snowy weather, it is important to understand how your car handles in the snow, especially in situations where your car’s traction is even more compromised, such as on hills. Make sure that you have built up some speed before going to the base of a hill, and never slam on the gas (or brakes). Additionally, if you do not have to, you should not stop while going up a hill. Getting started on a hill is extremely challenging in snowy or icy conditions, even if you have AWD.
- Prep for Long Trips or Trips to Remote Areas: If you are driving outside of your local area or going to a rural area where services are less available, it is critical to pack supplies during snowy conditions, in case your vehicle becomes stuck. This includes non-perishable food, at least two liters of water, blankets, cellphone and a portable charger that does not have to draw electricity from the car, a first-aid kit, jumper cables, as well as any additional maintenance or personal items that would be necessary for a potential overnight stay. Especially if the road conditions are uncertain at your destination, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Driving during the winter can be stressful but watching your speed and ensuring your vehicle is in good working condition goes a long way toward preventing accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident due to another’s negligence, call the Chicago area car accident attorneys of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC at 312-346-8620 today for a free consultation.