The Department of Transportation reports that nearly a quarter of weather-related vehicular crashes occur during wintry weather–snow, ice or a slushy mix. To make matters more concerning, 116,000+ people are injured and another 1,300+ lose their lives each year. Ensuring you and your family stay safe this winter is important to us. So, if you’re headed out for some travel this winter, here are some tips to keep you safe:
Planning for a Winter Trip
Traveling for some families during the winter months is inevitable–with family members across the state or even across the country to visit. Here’s what you can do to keep your family safe as you plan for your trip:
- Know the weather & check for updates: One of the most reliable places to get updates on weather conditions is the National Weather Service. Have your co-pilot check the weather often by visiting mobile.weather.gov. Traveling by yourself? Pull off occasionally to check or check the weather when you stop for gas. Weather conditions can change fast, so if it’s sunny and clear when you depart, don’t think it will be that way your entire trip.
- Be familiar with road conditions on your route: It’s also a good idea to check road conditions on your route–weather-related, construction, closures…etc. AccuWeather offers an app to help you plan your trip or you can download the Waze app to get real-time updates from other drivers on your same route. Not as tech savvy? You can also check the Federal Highway Administration for closures and traffic information before you leave.
- Winterize your vehicle: Finally, part of planning for your trip is to make sure your car is effectively prepared for winter weather–checking fluids, installing snow tires, checking your battery, packing a winter weather emergency kit…etc. Check out the DMV website for a full checklist.
Driving in Wintry Conditions
If you already know winter weather is in your travel plans, here’s some tips on how to navigate your vehicle through wintry conditions.
- Accelerate & decelerate slowly: Be mindful of the accelerator. Accelerating and decelerating slowly is the best method for maintaining/gaining traction and avoiding slides/skids. Remember: It will always take more time to slow down on snowy/icy roads.
- Drive slowly: It’s normal to be anxious to get to your destination–especially when you’re heading to see family and friends you don’t get to see often. Just remember to allow yourself for more time for travel when weather conditions plague your commute. Depending on what you’re up against, use the apps mentioned above to help you figure out how much time to add to your trip.
- Know your brakes: No matter what type of brake system you have–anti-lock or not–know how they react. The best way to stop on icy, snowy or slushy roads is to apply the brakes, while keeping your heel on the floor and using the ball of your foot to apply the brake with firm, steady pressure.
Along with the tips above, there is one last tip to keep in mind: Stay at home if you are not confident in your ability to deal with the road conditions. It may change your plans for the day, but it’s better than taking a risk with your safety and well being.
If you are a part of a motor vehicle accident in wintery conditions, move to safety and call 911. You should wait for police and an ambulance to arrive, as this will allow you to immediately feel better. From there, once you are comfortable doing so, call Curt Hamilton Injury Law to get you the compensation you deserve.