Winter Weather & Road Safety

driving-916405_1280Fall and winter weather are synonymous with luxurious meals, sledding, family bonding, and fireside relaxation. And yet  as we enter the holiday season, nearly 27,900 Americans will be seriously injured in auto accidents, and more than 250 will die according to AAA.

Matters are made only worse in Virginia, where our stretch of I-95 has been dubbed one of the deadliest in the country. Between 2004 and 2008 there were roughly two accidents every mile and a half.

Winter weather is fun to play in, but very dangerous to drive in. If you do need to brave the weather (emphasis on “need to”), we have some tips that can help make the drive somewhat safer:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Be sure your car is fully maintained and ready for winter weather. This includes appropriate tires, antifreeze, a good battery, new wiper blades, and appropriate oil.

Lastly… stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Driving during the busiest times of the year (especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas) is extremely risky and should be avoided if at all possible. Plan ahead for the occasion now and buy a plane ticket if possible.

And if all of your best efforts fail you, and you end up in a fender bender or serious accident. Call The Law Office of Collier & Collier, P.C. for a free consultation to discuss your case. Let us put our resources to work for you.