It doesn't matter how much it snowed last year, winter driving is always madness as soon as the first flakes fall.
The problem, however, may not be your driving. It's that everyone else on the road is slipping and sliding, which means you have to be ready to react to their poor choices. Even if you're obeying traffic rules, you could still be the one stuck with the bill after the guy in front of you slams on the brakes.
Accidents in winter are often more serious because cars can't slow down as quickly when they skate over ice. So let's prevent the damage and injury by avoiding those accidents altogether. Here are 7 winter driving tips to keep you safe:
- Leave extra space. Add an extra 10 feet between you and the car ahead of you, and double that when driving on the highway. It will take you longer to stop in icy and snowy conditions, and if you rear-end someone you could be held liable.
- Slow down. Speed limits are only meant to be recommendations for dry road conditions. In bad weather, you're expected to drive as slow as necessary to stay safe. Moderate your speed based on road conditions so you don't get a ticket for driving the speed limit during a blizzard.
- Pump the brake. Most cars have anti-lock brakes but that doesn't mean you should rely on being able to slam your foot down. Slow down gradually over a longer distance to make sure you can stop when you need to and keep your brakes in good condition.
- Clear it all off. Don't just clear off your windshield. Clear off your headlights so you can see them on the road and avoid a ticket for obstructing your lights. Also brush off the top of your car so you don't find your windshield covered in snow the first time you stop.
- Replace windshield wipers. If you're driving in rain, snow, or sleet you need to continually clear off the windshield. But that won't work if your wiper blades are old, so make sure to replace them every few months. The fact that your wiper blades were too old to clear the windshield doesn't make the accident any less your fault.
- Change out worn tires. Older tires don't grip the road as well as newer ones with better tread. Check the warning signs listed by How Stuff Works and if your tires are showing their age, replace them ASAP. If your hometown gets a lot of snow, then you may also want to consider investing in snow tires.
- Purchase snow chains. You likely won't need these everyday, but when the snow really comes down it's good to know they're around. Certain federal and state roads also require snow chains depending on conditions. Don't get caught without them when the snow and wind pick up. They could save your life.
- Car Accident Liability: Proving Fault in a Car Crash (FindLaw)
- Safe driving tips for winter weather in Massachusetts (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)
- Icy Roads: At Fault Even When Driving Speed Limit? (FindLaw's Injured)
- Motor Vehicle Accidents: First Steps (FindLaw - Free Download)