It is that time of the year again, as the season of snow, ice, and (hopefully) road salt descends upon us. It seems like every year around this time we see a slew of car and truck accidents due to snow, ice, and wintery road conditions. While accidents happen in every season, many of these wintery collisions are avoidable. As a personal injury firm in Clarksburg, we at Goddard Law, PLLC have seen our fair share of winter-related accidents, and have learned a thing or two about avoiding them. Check out some of our best tips to avoid car and truck accidents this winter below!
Give yourself time to adjust to the conditions.
According to Professor David Havas at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, it takes our brains time to learn and relearn how to drive in the snow. So, even if you grew up in Buffalo, driving in the winter is not like riding the proverbial bicycle. Every season we need to relearn how to handle the snow and ice on the road. Give yourself time to adjust and avoid some of those car accidents that are avoidable.
It may seem obvious, but is worth repeating– Cars are less responsive, less precise, and take longer to stop on snowy roads than dry roads. Often you don’t realize that you have lost control until it’s too late. So, slow down! A good rule of thumb is to give yourself twice the usual amount of time and space to slow down. This can help avoid rear-end collisions and gives you plenty of time to negotiate slippery roads.
Understand that your car’s systems are fallible.
We see it every year. Someone assumes that their all-wheel-drive truck or car can handle any winter condition, and they quickly end up in a snowbank. Do not assume that a four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle is any safer in winter conditions! All cars have two-wheel steering and four-wheel braking. Four-wheel and all-wheel drive may help you accelerate, but won’t keep you on the road any better than their two-wheel-drive contemporaries! Thus, four-wheel and all-wheel drive is no advantage and does not improve your car’s handling or braking (but good tires do–see below).
Drive on quality all-season or winter tires with plenty of tread.
A relatively small amount of your tire, and an even smaller portion of the car as a whole, is in contact with the road at any one time. Wintry conditions dramatically reduce the coefficient of friction or “grip” that the contact patch of your tire makes with the road. If you can, buy winter or snow tires. You can use them for a number of winters and they save wear on your regular tires. Thus, the only additional expense is the cost of having the tires mounted and balanced every fall and spring. Snow tires are the reason state troopers can go anywhere in a two-wheel drive police cruiser. Furthermore, the benefits of snow tires in preventing car accidents are in the statistics. In 2009, Quebec enacted a law requiring drivers to use snow tires between December 15 and March 15. In the city of Montreal, serious wintertime motor vehicle and car accidents dropped by 46 percent following the enactment of the snow tire law. So get those tires! You’ll be glad you did.
Do not use cruise control.
While cruise control can be extremely useful for long drives and road trips, it’s detrimental to your safety in the winter! To understand why, consider that the easiest way to deactivate cruise control is to hit the brakes, and, often, the worst thing to do as you hit a slick spot is to hit the brakes. The combination can easily cause a very serious auto or truck accident. Maintaining awareness during winter driving is absolutely critical.
Be extra cautious when crossing bridges or exiting or entering a freeway.
Bridges cool quicker than roadways as they do not have the thermal mass of the earth to moderated temperature. Hence, bridges may be iced over even when the roads and ground are not. Likewise, freeway on- and off-ramps are often not as well salted as the main freeway and they may be slick even when the road is not. Be extra careful when driving on these surfaces!
Contact a Clarksburg personal injury lawyer in the event of an accident.
Unfortunately, no matter how safe you are, sometimes accidents do happen. If you do find yourself in a wintery collision, contact the Clarksburg personal injury lawyers at Goddard Law, PLLC for a free consultation. We will go over the details of the accident and injuries to determine whether or not you have a case. If you do, we work with you to recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more!