While we all understand the many hazards that snow and ice can cause a driver, too often we make the mistake of treating snowy days as “just another day”. This overconfident mindset can lead to poor driving habits and a disregard for winter weather conditions as a safety threat entirely. So we want to challenge you to stop and think about your safety, while making it your first priority each time you get behind the wheel.
Here are some common mistakes that drivers make after a snow, that we hope you’ll avoid:
“Don’t worry, I have 4-wheel drive!”
While four-wheel drive is certainly helpful for some added traction on snow-covered roadways, don’t assume that means you’re immune to the hazards that wintery conditions can cause. Black ice doesn’t care what kind of vehicle you drive. If you’re driving at high speeds and braking suddenly, you may find yourself slipping on black ice and sludge. Please remember that it’s still important to drive cautiously, no matter what kind of vehicle you have.
“It’s snowing?! But…I’m not ready for this!”
The first snow has fallen and you’re now in panic mode. The tread on your tires is worn, and you’ve misplaced your snow scraper. Don’t let this happen to you. Be prepared—and if you’re not prepared, start now! You may need to change your tires (or purchase snow tires), check your battery power and antifreeze levels, and don’t forget to test your defroster & windshield wipers. These are all crucial for keeping your vehicle running strong, and making it through hazardous winter weather conditions without a hitch.
“Maybe if I stay on their bumper, they’ll drive faster!”
Do not tailgate or follow too closely behind other drivers during snowy conditions. It’s that simple. Reaction time is lessened the closer you are to the vehicle in front of you, and slamming on brakes isn’t recommended on icy roadways. You’ll want to leave a few car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you in case there’s a sudden stop or slip. If someone is following you too closely, move over to the far-right lane and take your time. It’s more important to get to your destination safely than quickly.
“My car is sliding! What do I do?!”
If you find that you’ve temporarily lost control of your vehicle after sliding on ice, don’t panic, and don’t slam on the brake. Braking takes away even the smallest bit of traction that your tires have while moving, so it’s better to ease off the accelerator and stay calm as your vehicle naturally adjusts to the loss of control.
“The roads are clear, no need to drive slow now!”
Just because a road appears to be cleared doesn’t mean you should speed. Black ice is such a hazard to drivers because it’s very difficult to see. But, slipping on a patch at 75mph on a major highway will not make it any easier to stop or regain control. As mentioned earlier, when you speed your reaction time is cut down tremendously. Therefore, its always better to err on the side of caution after a snow.
Plan ahead. Leave sooner than you typically would so that you can arrive at your destination safely and on time. Be sure to keep essential items such as snow scrapers, blankets, gloves, flashlights, and even a small shovel or some kitty litter (to help with traction beneath tires stuck in snow or ice) in your vehicle when you’re out and about.
While we hope you stay safe, if you find yourself injured in a car wreck, contact the car accident attorneys at McCoy & Hiestand. We’ll review the details of your situation, and get you the help you deserve.