As a Cleveland, Ohio Car Accident Lawyer, I hear my fair share of stories about car accidents caused by wintery road conditions. To say safe on the roads this winter, keep these important tips in mind!
Driving in Snow and Ice
1. The best advice for avoiding a motor vehicle accident in snow and ice is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.
2. Don’t go out until the snow plows and sand trucks have had a chance to work, and allow extra time to reach your destination.
3. If you must drive in snow and ice, make sure your car is ready, and that you know how to handle the road conditions.
4. Take some time to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you’re familiar with how your car handles.
Driving On Icy Roads
1. Slow down early and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between your car and the car in front of you.
2. Brake gently to avoid sliding and skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, let off the brake.
3. Drive with your lights to increase visibility.
4. Take time to knock the snow off your headlights – not just the windshield.
5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6. Never use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
7. Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses because they freeze first.
8. Don’t pass snow plows or sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions – even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can slide and spin out on icy roads.
10. As always, keep distractions to a minimum and never be texting while driving.
If your rear wheels skid…
1. Take your foot off the gas.
2. Steer in the direction you want the front of your car to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that same side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle back under control.
4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently – do not just slam them.
5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Instead, apply steady pressure. You will feel the brakes pulse and vibrate — this frightens some people, but do not worry – it is normal and means the brakes are working.
If your front wheels skid…
1. Take your foot off the accelerator and shift into neutral, but do not try to steer immediately.
2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in drive or release the clutch and accelerate gently.
If you get stuck…
1. Do not spin your wheels (this will only dig you in deeper).
2. Turn your wheels side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
3. Use a light touch on the accelerator to ease your car out.
4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from each of the wheels and the underside of the car.
5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, which will help you to get traction.
6. Try rocking the vehicle (but check your owner’s manual first! — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the accelerator until the vehicle gets going.
Sources: Weather.com, National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services