Winter Driving Tips To Avoid Car Accidents
Winter in the Midwest can be brutal on both cars and drivers. We face roads slick with snow, sleet, and ice; and there’s often low visibility, and rapidly changing road conditions. But there are a number of things you can do to stay safe on Illinois’ roads this winter.
Keeping your car (or truck) in top mechanical order is a good idea all the time, but it’s especially important in winter. An inspection and tune-up, which usually run less than a hundred dollars (depending on what needs to be done and when your last check-up was) will make sure the tires are safe, the wiper blades work properly, the engine coolant’s topped off, and the window glass and other crucial safety equipment of your car are sound. Tires interact directly with the roadway; if they’re too thin, they can’t grip a comprised surface. Read through the owner’s manual or the tire information sticker (usually located near the VIN number, on a door frame) for the tire inflation instructions, and keep your tires at the recommended pressure. All-season radial tires are usually adequate, but, if you’re planning on doing a lot of winter driving, snow tires are the better choice for bad road conditions.
Another tip—pretty much common sense—is to scrape all the ice and snow off the windows of your vehicle (windshield, rear window, and at least the driver and front passenger seat windows). Lots of people don’t do this for some reason, driving around with very limited visibility, endangering themselves and everyone else on the road. Clean off your headlights and taillights, and keep them on when driving in bad weather. Illinois gets a lot of snow off the Great Lakes, and storms gust up quickly—it’s wise to check the weather report before you head out. Another common sense tip that bears repeating: wait until the plows and sand trucks have had a chance to clear the roads before driving out into bad weather. Keep an emergency kit in the car with you (water, protein snacks, flares, blanket, flashlight, shovel, etc); being stranded on an Illinois night in January is nobody’s idea of a good time, but an emergency kit increases your chances of making it through.
Roadways can be dangerous for vehicles without offering any real visual cues. Ice may form whenever the temperature drops to 40 degrees or below, and at night, black ice is a major concern for drivers. Bridges and underpasses freeze faster than other roadways, because moisture can’t dissipate the same way it does on a road with earth underneath and evaporative space above. Intersections are also dangerous in winter; moisture dripping from stopped vehicles’ exhaust systems freezes fast on pavement. Keep at least a car length ahead of you when stopped at intersections—this will keep your car from skidding into the vehicle ahead of you, should you get struck from someone skidding behind.
Drive slowly and attentively in a storm. Do not use cruise control on icy roads; downshift for better traction (particularly on hills); brake gently to keep from skidding. If the wheels lock, ease off the brake. If you start to skid, the most important thing you can do is not panic. Then steer in the direction you want to go, and the wheels will unlock as the tires grab hold again. If your car or truck has an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), use steady, firm pressure on the brake pedal when slowing—never pump the pedal. If you don’t have ABS, lightly pump the brakes when you feel the vehicle start to skid, and steer. If you find yourself in really poor visibility conditions, especially in heavy snow and fog, low beams often provide more illumination than high beams. Don’t try to pass snow plows; keep fifteen cars lengths between yourself and the plow, and wait until they pull over to pass (which is usually not a good idea—the roadway in front of the plow is in worse shape than behind it).
Finally, if you get stuck in deep snow, don’t spin the wheels (this will bury them in deeper); turn the wheels side to side several times to free them from compacted snow, and, if necessary, shovel out the tires. Then, a light touch on the acceleration will ease the car out. Pouring sand, dirt, kitty litter, or gravel in front of the wheels also helps them bite down. Making sure your cell phone is charged is also important, should none of these tricks get you out of deep snow.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact Mike Agruss Law, for a free consultation at 312-224-4695. Mike Agruss Law, handles personal injury cases throughout Illinois. Mike Agruss Law, will handle your personal injury case quickly, will advise you every step of the way, and will not hesitate to go to trial for you. This litigation strategy will provide you with the best possible compensation.
Lastly, Mike Agruss Law, does not get paid attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. Therefore, you have nothing to risk when you hire our Chicago personal injury law firm–just the opportunity to seek justice. Call us today at 312-224-4695.