Winter is just around the corner, and if you’re even remotely familiar with New York weather, you know what that means: drivers will be faced with additional hazards on the road due to rain, snow, and ice Here are some statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding weather-related accidents:
- Weather factors into about 21% of all vehicle crashes in the U.S.
- 16% of all crash-related fatalities include weather as a contributing factor
- 18% of weather-related accidents occur during snow or sleet
- 13% of weather-related accidents occur on icy pavement
Even the most experienced drivers can face challenges while driving through inclement weather conditions. But by following certain tips and taking precautions before getting on the road, you can help ensure that you, your passengers, and others on the road stay safe this winter.
Maintain Your Vehicle
Safe driving begins before you even get on the road. Ensuring that your vehicle is getting regular maintenance and tune-ups is crucial for preventing breakdowns during challenging weather conditions. Before the winter season hits, make sure the following parts of your vehicle are checked and functioning as they should be:
- Tires and tire pressure
- Windshield wipers
- Belts and hoses
- Engine oil and fluids
During cold seasons, it’s especially important to pay attention to your car’s battery, which can lose power as the temperature drops.
Reduce Your Speed and Increase Your Buffer
It’s more difficult to control your vehicle or come to a stop when driving on wet, snowy, or slushy roads. Additionally, road conditions can be unpredictable during winter and things can change in the blink of an eye.
Always abide by the speed limit and, if weather conditions make it difficult to see or drive safely, reduce your speed as needed. Driving slower will also allow you to stop safely by ensuring that your wheels maintain traction with the road surface. On top of this, increase your following distance to give yourself and your vehicle more time to brake.
Know How to Handle a Skid
When roads are wet or slippery, vehicles are at an increased risk of skidding; if you’ve ever experienced such an event, you know how terrifying it can be to lose control of your vehicle. Skids occur when tires lose their grip on the road and can be caused by:
- Driving too fast
Many drivers inherently want to brake when they begin skidding, but this can actually make the situation more dangerous. Instead, drivers should take their feet off the pedals and turn your vehicle back in the direction you want it to go without entirely cranking the wheel. As it begins turning, you’ll need to turn back in the opposite direction slowly and do so until your vehicle is going straight.
The best way to avoid a skid while driving is to drive smoothly; in other words, drive at a slow, consistent speed that doesn’t involve you constantly braking and accelerating.
Be Wary of Black Ice
Black ice may be one of the most dangerous winter road conditions because it’s nearly invisible to the naked eye. Essentially, this occurs when thin ice is frozen over the asphalt but is so clear that it looks like part of the ground or a puddle of water.
Whenever you’re out driving while it’s close to freezing, you should make sure to be wary of black ice. Reduce your speed and avoid any hard brakes; if you feel like you are going too fast, pump your brakes instead so that you can avoid a possible skid.
Stay Alert and Avoid Risky Driving
Driving distractions are abundant, especially during the winter and holiday seasons. However, now is not the time to let such distractions take your attention away from the task at hand. Make sure to put your phone away when operating your vehicle; turn the volume off and put it facing down so that you are not tempted to pick it up and read a text when you are driving.
If you are heading out for holiday travels and are not familiar with the route you are taking, put the directions into your GPS before getting on the road or have a passenger put it in for you.
What To Do If You’re Injured in a Weather-Related Accident
We hope that these tips provide you with the information and tools you need to stay safe when the cold weather hits. However, we do recognize that accidents can still happen, even if you follow every safe driving technique in the book.
If you or a loved one is injured in a weather-related accident this winter season, we understand that you probably have many questions about how to pursue compensation for your losses, including expenses for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more.
At The Odierno Law Firm, P.C., our dedicated, caring legal team is committed to helping those injured in Long Island and across the state of New York heal the right way. You shouldn’t have to worry or stress about a potentially drawn-out insurance claim when you are trying to physically and emotionally recover.
With over 150 years of legal experience, our Long Island car accident attorneys are standing by ready to review your case for free and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, all while keeping you informed throughout the entirety of the legal process.
Help is only a phone call away. Contact The Odierno Law Firm, P.C. at (631) 752-8580 to get started with a no-fee, no-obligation consultation.