Winter is Coming - How to Decrease Your Risk of a Car Crash

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Practice Areas: Auto Accident, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, SSDI, Workers Compensation, Wrongful Death

How to Properly Drive in the Ice and Snow to Decrease Risk of Car Crashes

Soon enough winter will be upon us.  Let's talk about how to limit your risk of being in a car crash during dangerous weather.

1. Don't drive.

Obviously, the best way to avoid a car accident when it is snowing or we are having freezing rain, is simply to stay home. Of course, this isn't always possible, but if it is, your best bet is to stay out of your car. Even getting into a bus can be dangerous, since even heavy buses can slip and slide during icy conditions.

However, sometimes we have no choice. And if you have no choice, there are some steps you can take to minimize your risk.

2. Beware of Black Ice

In PA and NJ, there is black ice. Black ice is ice that is virtually impossible to see. Frequently we see this kind of ice when there is a light freezing rain or snow is melting and then freezes. Since black ice is almost impossible to see, and sometimes is completely impossible to see, again, it is your best bet is to stay home. Otherwise, just drive as carefully as you can. Slow down and watch for shiny surfaces of the road. Watch for areas where you can see snow that looks like it was in the process of melting. Look for indentations in the road such as potholes where ice is more likely to form. Black ice causes skidding, loss of traction, rollovers, and of course collisions due to brake failures.

3. Watch Hills - Know How to Handle Them

Driving up or down hills can be especially challenging. If you try to drive up a hill that is slippery, you can easily lose control of your car due to a loss of traction. Even a slight hill can be challenging.

  • You need to face hills confidently. Many people have a problem getting up a hill simply because they become nervous and slow down as they start to go up. This is actually the worst thing you can do.
  • Give yourself some acceleration before you start up the hill. You need momentum and you don't want to have to press down hard on the accelerator when you are on the hill.
  • Don't mash on the accelerator when you are on the hill. If you do, you will start swerving around and will end up losing control. Use steady, measured pressure as needed. Try to keep a consistent pressure. If the wheels start to spin, ease off.
  • Do not stop unless you must. You could easily slide backward or simply get stuck.

4. Steer Into or Out of a Skid?

One common question is whether to steer into or out of a skid. The answer is turn in and accelerate.

1.     Avoid panicking. It is easy, when you see yourself approaching another car, a cliff or a side rail to completely freak out. This won't help, of course, so do your best to calm yourself so you can focus on driving and regaining control of your car.

2.     Know where your car's weight is located. Do you have a front wheel or rear wheel car? Knowing how to drive your specific car properly is key to decreasing the risk of a skid in the first place. Adjust your speed and your distance from other cars accordingly. Practice with your car in good weather so you can get a sense of its balance. Apply that knowledge to your driving all of the time, but especially on snowy days.

3.     Give yourself time to slow down before you turn. Begin by slowly and smoothly applying your brakes before the turn or corner. Then, once you are done with the turn, accelerate smoothly. Every action needs to be smooth and deliberate. This will help you avoid skids in the first place.

4.     Don't be rough with your steering wheel. Your actions as you steer your car also need to be smooth and deliberate. Again, this will help you avoid skidding.

5.     If you start skidding, turn into the skid and accelerate. Yes, this seems contraindicated and scary, but braking is actually the worst thing you can do. Your car is already out of control and pushing on the brakes will make things worse. Release your brakes and gently accelerate. Don't press down too hard on the accelerator that will also make things worse.

These are just some of the steps you can take to decrease your risks of a car accident. Of course, if you do have an accident due to someone else’s negligence and get injured, you should seek out a lawyer to make sure you protect your rights.

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