A chill in the air doesn’t just signal the approach of winter: it also signals that it’s time to prepare for cold or inclement weather on the road. While snow and ice can make driving dangerous, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get into a car accident. With the appropriate precautions, you can protect yourself and others on the road during the cold winter months.
Explore the best ways to drive safely in winter weather and how a car accident attorney from Great West Injury Law can help if you get into a winter weather car accident.
Winterize Your Car
Car maintenance changes seasonally. Some tasks that you may not even think about during summer could make a big difference in your car’s functionality during the winter. Before winter begins, perform the necessary maintenance to winterize your car, including:
- Battery: Check how much charge your battery holds, as batteries often have trouble starting in cold weather. Clean any corrosion off the terminals and ensure the connectors are secure. If the battery is struggling to hold a charge or is visibly deformed or misshapen, get it replaced, as it likely won’t last the winter.
- Tires: Refill your tires with air. Replace your tires with new ones or switch to snow tires if they show less than 5/32 of an inch tread.
- Windshield wipers: Exchange your regular wiper fluid for a winter wiper fluid, which is less likely to freeze. Switch your wipers to ones made for winter weather, which have a thicker, more durable rubber than those for summer months.
- Oil: Change your oil filter and replace your regular car oil with winterized car oil. Regular car oil will thicken in the cold, preventing it from circulating and causing engine damage. Car oils designed for winter weather maintain the same viscosity at lower temperatures.
- Coolant: Flush your coolant or antifreeze if necessary. It becomes acidic after a few years, which can cause your internal components of your car to rust. Mix your antifreeze with a 40% water and 60% antifreeze ratio to prevent freezing in low temperatures.
- Gas tank: Ensure you have at least half a tank of gas as the temperature drops to prevent your gas lines from freezing. This also helps put extra weight in your vehicle to avoid skidding in snow or ice.
Keep Necessary Tools on Hand
While you’re unlikely to get stranded in a snowbank while driving down city streets, it’s crucial to keep winter weather tools on hand in case of a car accident or mechanical failure. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following emergency items:
- Snow brush and ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Flares or emergency triangles
- Sand, cat litter, or other abrasive material to throw under your tires for traction
- Blankets and extra coats
- Food, water, and a cell phone charger
Drive Slowly and Give Extra Distance
As snow and ice accumulate and melt on the road, streets can become slippery, making it difficult for your tires to grip the road. The cold temperatures can also lead to the development of black ice, a thin, nearly invisible sheet of ice that covers roads and pavement.
Driving too quickly on wet or icy roads can cause you to lose control of your car, particularly when turning or braking, and lead to a collision. Even if you don’t skid, wet or icy roads also increase the distance you need to stop safely. Keep extra distance between you and other cars on the road to avoid a crash and protect others if you skid.
Pay Attention to the Road
Distracted driving is dangerous in all weather. However, falling snow can obscure your peripheral vision, and icy roads can cause your car to spin out when braking. Avoid texting and driving, adjusting the navigation system, or any other activity that takes your eyes off the road.
Avoid cruise control or other features that control your vehicle’s speed without you. Cruise control doesn’t account for the weather conditions and may not slow your car quickly enough to prevent a skid or crash.
Stay Home if Need Be
Sometimes the weather conditions make it unsafe to drive. If the temperatures are dangerously low or heavy snowfall makes it too difficult to see, stay off the road and stay indoors. Driving during severe weather conditions can lead to a serious accident that results in injuries or death. It may not be worth the trip to risk yours or your passengers’ well-being in inclement weather.
Been in a Winter Weather Car Accident? Contact Great West Injury Law
Even the most cautious drivers can get into serious car accidents due to winter weather conditions. If you were injured in a car accident, our car accident attorneys at Great West Injury Law can help.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.