Cold Weather Driving Tips
January 9, 2024
With colder weather upon us, now is a good time to make sure that your vehicle is properly winterized and road safe. We have compiled some useful pointers and recommendations on winter driving from federal agencies like the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) — check out the tips to learn how to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Getting Ready and Preparing Your Vehicle
According to the NHTSA, winter weather like snow, sleet and ice cause hundreds of fatalities and tens of thousands of injuries every year. In 2021, for example, there were nearly 400 deaths and more than 22,300 injury crashes that occurred during winter weather conditions. Planning your trip and preparing your vehicle for adverse driving conditions is an excellent way to safeguard against getting into a preventable accident. Here are some steps you can take to winterize your vehicle before hitting the road:
- When the temperature goes down outside, so does tire inflation pressure. Make sure that all four tires are filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure. Inspect your tires at least once each month and before you take a trip. It is also best to measure tire pressure when the tires are cold, meaning when they have not been driven on for at least three hours. Inspect tires for any damage that may need attention, make sure the tread is in good condition and that your spare tire is readily available. Do not forget to check each tires’ age, too – most manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years
- Be mindful with car seats. Even though it’s cold outside, remember that when children wear heavy, bulky coats that it can interfere with the proper harness fit in their car seat. Choose thin, warm layers and blankets or coats that you can put on your child after they are secure in their car seat with a snug harness
- Battery power goes down with the temperature, too. Head to your mechanic and have them check your battery, charging system, belts, and for any other needed repairs or replacements
- Keep your gas tank at least half full
- Get familiar with your vehicle’s safety technologies and how they perform in winter driving conditions. Determine whether your vehicle has an antilock brake system and learn how to use it properly. If your vehicle does not have an antilock brake system, you may need to pump your brakes if you feel your wheel start to lock up
- Consider swapping out your usual floor mats for ones made from a thicker or rubbery material. Improperly installed floor mats in combination with slushy weather conditions could easily interfere with the operation of accelerator or the brake pedal, directly increasing the risk of a crash. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mat installation and use retention clips to secure the mats
- Remove snow and ice from the windows, mirrors, vehicle lights, hood and roof of your vehicle
- Make sure someone knows about your travel plans and when to expect you to arrive. This way, if you run into an emergency someone will know to look for you
The NHTSA also recommends stocking your vehicle with a snow shovel, an ice scraper and a broom, an abrasive material (such as cat litter or sand) in case your vehicle gets stuck in the ice or snow, jumper cables, a flashlight and warning devices (like flares and emergency markers), blankets, a cell phone, charger, water, food and any medications that may be necessary.
Safe Driving Recommendations
Once you are on the road, it is critical to observe your surroundings and to operate your vehicle with caution. PennDOT advises individuals to eliminate all unnecessary travel whenever winter weather is on the forecast. Some other tips from the agency include:
- Avoid making sudden stops and starts
- Slow down and increase your following distance behind all other vehicles
- Beware of roads that look wet but are actually frozen. Black ice is extremely hazardous for drivers
- Use extra caution on bridges and ramps. Ice can form without warning in these areas
- Do not use cruise control when driving on snow-covered roads
- Remember, PA state law mandates drivers to turn their headlights on when their windshield wipers are on
- Use your low beams in especially bad weather, particularly in cases of heavy or blowing snow
- Do not park or abandon your vehicle on snow emergency routes
- Do not pass or get between trucks that are plowing in a plow line (a plow line is when several trucks are plowing side by side)
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Always wear your seatbelt and avoid all distractions, like using a cell phone, eating, drinking, etc.
Preparing and being careful are two of the most effective ways to reduce the known risks associated with driving in wintry, potentially adverse conditions. If you or a loved one are involved in a motor vehicle accident, someone at our firm can help. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing automobile accident victims. Here are just a few examples of our past cases:
- We represented a client who was left paralyzed after getting into an auto accident. Our attorneys not only pursued a claim against the at-fault driver who hit our client head on, but also against the auto manufacturer for defective seat belts and crashworthiness of the vehicle. We successfully recovered $4,500,000.00 on behalf of our injured client. You can learn more about this recovery at: https://www.galfandberger.com/verdicts/auto-accidents/39-2/
- Our client was struck by a tractor trailer on an interstate highway. He suffered severe injuries that led to the amputation of both of his legs below the knee. Our investigation uncovered evidence that the at-fault driver’s log was inaccurate, indicating excessive driving hours. Additionally, we discovered that the brakes on the trailer were worn out and that the tires were bald. Our lawyers recovered $3,000,000.00 for our injured client. To learn more, visit: https://www.galfandberger.com/verdicts/auto-accidents/45-2/
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you have questions about filing a claim for injuries you sustained, contact the Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.