Winter weather—which means ice and snow—is here to stay for the season, so it's time to go over some of the basics that everyone needs to remember when they're driving. Take a moment to review these winter driving tips before you head out on the road again.
1. Prepare your car for the season.
Your driving skills alone won't be enough to keep you safe on the winter roads. Your car has to be ready for the season as well. First, make sure that the tread on your tires is still good enough to get through the season. Depending on where you live, you may want to switch to winter tires, which have thicker, deeper treads to gain more traction on the snow.
Also, make sure that your brakes are in good working order. You can't afford to have the brakes soften on you while you're in the middle of a road trip in the snow, so don't wait to replace your brake pads if it's time.
2. Know how to handle the winter roads.
The number one thing you have to remember in the winter when you're driving is that a slow speed equals safety. You have to accelerate slowly, even when merging into traffic or changing lanes. You also have to decelerate slowly if you want to avoid spinning out on the ice.
That means that you absolutely need to know how your brakes respond. Give yourself double the amount of time you normally do in order to stop and twice the distance you'd normally put between yourself and other vehicles.
By the same token, you don't want to overuse your brakes on snowy roads. Don't stop if you can avoid it, particularly if you're on a hill. Braking is what causes most people to start to lose control of their vehicles.
3. Be ready for a slide on the ice or snow.
If your car feels like it is about to slide but hasn't slipped yet, slow down. That slight waiver you feel under your wheels is a warning that you're going too fast and about to lose control. If necessary, drop your car into second gear until you get on firmer ground.
If your car does start to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn your wheel the same direction that the rear of your vehicle is sliding. That's called "turning into the slide." If you have an antilock braking system (which most modern cars do), you don't need to pump your brakes. Just push down as normal and let the car do the rest.
Ideally, it's best to stay off the roads when the weather is particularly bad—if you can. If you have to be out, however, keep a calm head and practice an abundance of caution. Unfortunately, you can't predict what other drivers may do, so if you still end up in an accident through no fault of your own, talk to an auto accident attorney as soon as possible.
For more information, reach out to law firms like Bangel, Bangel & Bangel.