video calls availableFree Consultation
Request Free Consultation

Safe Driving Tips for the Winter

Request Free Consultation
Posted on November 21, 2023

Nothing is more beautiful than the first pristine white winter snowfall, but it’s always best to enjoy this winter wonder from the window while you’re safely inside with a steamy mug in your hands. Around 1300 fatalities occur every year in the United States due to wintery driving conditions and over 116,800 other accident victims suffer injuries. About 70% of Americans live in regions with cold, snowy winters, accounting for over 2.3 billion dollars in annual spending on snow and ice management on U.S. roadways.

With work, school, and busy daily lives, it isn’t always possible to remain at home during inclement winter weather, but knowing how to decrease the risk of an accident on wintery roads is the best way to protect yourself and your family.

What to Know Before You Go

If you must drive in winter weather conditions, it’s important to properly prepare before you head out on the road. The following checklist is important to consider before getting in your car during winter driving conditions:

  • Check your tire pressure—dramatic temperature changes can cause changes in your tire pressure. Under-inflated tires have a reduced tread grip on slippery roadways. In wintery weather climates, use winter tires and carry chains in your vehicle
  • Be sure you’ve added antifreeze to prevent your vehicle’s cooling system from freezing
  • Have a professional check your car’s important systems such as your heater, exhaust system, windshield wipers, defrosters, and brakes to ensure that they’re in top working condition
  • Carry an ice-scraper
  • Always keep emergency supplies in your vehicle during the winter, including warm blankets, water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, and flares. A bag of cat litter can provide traction under tires in an emergency
  • Keep your gas tank full in case you’re trapped in slow-moving winter traffic or stuck on the roadside during a storm
  • When placing infants and small children in car seats, do not buckle them in with winter coats or puffy clothing on, as this reduces the effectiveness of the seat’s safety harness. Instead, dress children in warm, thin layers, buckle them into their car seats, and then place their winter coats and blankets over them.

Drivers should always familiarize themselves with their vehicle’s emergency features and functions before driving in the winter.

Safety Tips on Winter Roads

Driving in the winter is significantly different than driving in warm weather conditions. You can improve safety by doing the following:

  • Allow ample time to arrive at your destination: during winter months, it’s best to leave a little earlier than usual for work or other events. This allows extra time for slower winter traffic and prevents the need to increase speeds beyond a safe level on slushy, snowy, or icy roads
  • Slow your speed: snow, slush, and ice increase stopping distances and cause difficulties in controlling your vehicle. Experts recommend driving 5-10mph slower than usual during winter weather conditions
  • Increase your following distance from other vehicles from three seconds to eight seconds, and keep at least four car lengths between your vehicle and snow plows and other winter road maintenance vehicles
  • Don’t use your car’s cruise control function when roads are icy or slippery
  • Accelerate and decelerate slower during the winter
  • Avoid coming to a stop when driving uphill

Finally, if you’re forced to stop on the shoulder of the road in a winter storm, periodically check to ensure the tailpipe is clear of snow to avoid the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Don’t forget to speak with a San Diego car accident lawyer if you believe you may have a car accident case, we give free consultations!