While heavy snow isn’t a regular occurrence in Winston-Salem, we do see about six inches of snow each year, with about half of that occurring in January. Whether we get snow or not, the winter months are a dangerous time to drive for a multitude of reasons. This time of year is notorious for ringing in a spike of traffic accidents. But with fluctuating tire pressure, freezing gas, and other drivers on the road, how can you make sure you and your family arrive safely to your destinations?
There are some things you can do to keep yourself safe on the road in winter. Read on for Winston-Salem winter driving tips that could save the life of you and your car.
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Before You Go
Preparing for winter driving begins long before you head out into inclement weather. You should pay attention to weather conditions and road reports, understanding that sometimes when the weather is bad, it is best to stay at home if possible.
You will also need to take your car to the mechanic as winter approaches to ensure that it is in good repair when the temperatures drop.
In Your Car
You should gather and place the following items in your car in case of an emergency:
- Ice scrapers and a snow brush or a small broom.
- Extra windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze.
- A basic automotive tool kit that includes jumper cables and flares.
- A flashlight and extra batteries.
- A first aid kit.
- A pocket knife.
- A blanket or sleeping bag.
- An extra change of clothing, as well as extra socks, mittens, and a warm hat.
- A bag of sand, which can be poured on the ground by the tires to increase traction if you are stuck off of the road or unable to make a steep and icy hill.
- Non-perishable snacks and bottles of water.
You should always make sure you have at least half a tank of gas at all times in the winter, particularly if winter weather is expected. This not only alleviates the risk that you will run out of gas during a storm or while you’re stuck in your car in bad weather, but letting your gas tank get too low in freezing temperatures can cause serious damage to your vehicle.
Under the Hood
Harsh weather, snow, rain, and ice are hard on vehicles. Before inclement weather arrives, your car should be looked over by a mechanic to ensure it is in proper working order. Some of the things that should be checked include:
- Oil — if it is time for an oil change, ask for a winter blend that is designed to further protect your engine in cold weather.
- The vehicle’s heating and defrosting systems.
- Windshield wipers and wiper fluid.
- Brakes and brake fluid.
- Lights, including headlights, turn signals, tail lights, and flashing hazards.
You should also check your tires to ensure that the tread is adequate. Be aware that cold weather can decrease the air pressure in your tires. You should check your tire air pressure regularly during the winter months.
On the Road
If you absolutely cannot wait for the roads to clear and must go out during a winter storm, you should:
- Slow down and keep ample space between your car and the car in front of you. Speed is the number one cause of wintertime traffic accidents. Vehicles require an amount of time and distance to come to a safe stop. The driver must have time to see and respond to hazards on the roadway and the vehicle requires distance for the brakes to stop the forward-moving weight of the vehicle. Heavy vehicles require more distance to stop than smaller vehicles do regardless of the road conditions. All vehicles on wet or icy roads require more distance to stop than they do on dry roads.
- Never use your cruise control on icy roads.
- Approach bridges with caution as these are the first surfaces to become icy when temperatures drop.
- Drive as smoothly as possible, avoiding sudden acceleration, turning, or braking on roads that could be icy.
- If you start to slide, do not panic. Instead, wait for your vehicle to slow down enough to regain traction before carefully accelerating.
Lewis & Keller is Here to Help
Preparing yourself and your car for winter driving is very important. However, it doesn’t safeguard you against lack of preparation, carelessness, or recklessness of other drivers. If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by another driver’s actions, you need a champion to take up your case and help you seek maximum compensation for your losses. The experienced car accident attorneys at Lewis & Keller will be your compassionate allies, fighting alongside you for what you deserve and helping you understand the legal process. Contact us today for more information.