Tips for Staying Safe on the Road This Winter
January 21, 2022
Every winter, snow and ice contribute to increased automobile accident risks due to the unique roadway hazards that they create. According to the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHA), 70% of Americans live in snowy regions. To help lower crash risks, the American Automobile Association (AAA) is reminding drivers about a few simple steps they can take to get home safely.
The FHA reports that the top wintry condition factors to contribute to higher winter crash risks are decreased vehicle maneuverability, reduced roadway capacity, and lower pavement friction. Data from the agency shows that 1,300 people are killed and more than 160,000 others are injured in car accidents in snowy, slushy, or icy pavement each year. Additionally, 900 others lose their lives and 76,000 more sustain nonfatal injuries in collisions that take place during periods of sleet or snowfall.
Ways Drivers Can Stay Safe on the Road
Not only do people do people need to be especially careful driving in adverse weather conditions like snow, ice, and sleet, but they also need to make sure they are prepared in case of an unexpected roadway emergency. The AAA offers the following tips for drivers who are on the road in snowy or cold weather conditions:
- If the conditions are hazardous, stay home if you can. Only go out if you absolutely must
- Do not warm up your vehicle in an enclosed space, like a garage
- Avoid stopping and starting suddenly
- Do not use cruise control if you are driving on slippery surfaces, like on ice or on snow
- Make sure your car battery is working properly. According to the AAA’s Director of Operations, car batteries begin to degrade after three years; cold weather can drain a battery even more. To avoid getting stranded, replace your battery every five years at minimum
- Ensure that your tires are adequately inflated. Low temperatures can deflate the air in a vehicle’s tires by roughly one pound per square foot for every ten degrees drop in temperature. Deflated or under-inflated tires can cause tire blowouts and lead to the need for increased stopping distances. It is also important to check that your car’s tires have enough tread. To do this, you can simply an insert a penny into the tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head facing upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s face or head, you need to replace your tires as soon as possible
- Keep a bundle of cold weather clothing in your car, extra food and water, a flashlight, blankets, an ice scraper, medications, and other important items
- Keep at least half a tank of gas in your vehicle at all times
- Drive slowly and be sure to accelerate and decelerate at lower speeds than usual. Cars have less traction on icy and snowy roads, so leave yourself extra time and space to come to a complete stop
- Increase your following distance behind other vehicles to five or six seconds
- If you are driving up a hill and can avoid it, do not come to a stop. Cars need extra inertia to go uphill on icy roadways
If you are unable to avoid driving in adverse weather conditions, try to keep an eye out for ice patches, potholes, plow trucks that may pull out or turn in front of other vehicles on the road, and private roads that sometimes have a buildup of ice or snow. If your car does begin to slide or skid out, take your foot off the gas pedal and steer in the direction that the front wheels should go. Keep pressure on your vehicle’s anti-lock brakes. If the rear wheels begin to skid, the driver should take his or her foot off the gas and shift the car into neutral. The driver should hold off on steering until the vehicle starts to slow down. Once the car’s tires gain traction, the driver can put the vehicle back into gear and start to accelerate again slowly. If you want to learn more tips on ways to stay safe in dangerous driving conditions, visit: https://exchange.aaa.com/safety/driving-advice/winter-driving-tips/.
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