Fairfield County car accident attorney Jeremy Vishno shares winter weather driving tips for Connecticut drivers.
Do you dislike driving during the winter? If so, you're not alone. One survey found that nearly three-quarters of drivers cited winter as their least favorite driving season. More specifically, drivers in the Northeast dislike winter driving the most due to the snowy and icy conditions. If you live in Connecticut, consider the winter weather driving tips outlined below to reduce your risk of a crash.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly a quarter of weather-related crashes happen on snow, slushy, or icy roads. Another 15% happens during snowfall or sleet. Fairfield County car accident attorney Jeremy Vishno has seen the consequences of irresponsible driving during winter weather conditions. Below, attorney Vishno shares winter driving tips that will help make your experience on Connecticut roads much safer.
Tips for preparing your vehicle for winter driving
Preparation is critical for a safer winter weather driving experience. Here are a few ways to prepare your vehicle for the winter and reduce your chances of a crash.
Maintain or replace your tires.
The condition of your tires will impact how much control your vehicle has on slippery roads. Before hitting the road, here are a few things you should do:
- Look for sidewall damage: If you notice any sidewall damage on your tires, get them replaced immediately. Driving with sidewall damage can lead to a tire blowout, especially when traveling on high-speed roads.
- Check your tire tread: Worn-out tire tread results in loss of traction and road grip. This is particularly dangerous when traveling on snowy roads or encountering black ice. Try using the penny test to determine if you have enough tread. If not, get your tires replaced as soon as possible.
- Check your tire pressure: Tire pressure often changes when the temperature drops. Check your tires' air pressure with a tire pressure gauge to ensure adequate inflation. Low tire pressure can result in a tire blowout and/or loss of traction.
Ensure adequate visibility.
In the winter, expect a dark commute during the evening hours. Visibility drops significantly during dark conditions, especially on rural roads and other poorly lit areas.
According to the National Safety Council, you only have 250 feet of visibility with normal headlights at night. Visibility increases to 500 feet with the high beams on.
Before driving at night, check to ensure that both headlights and rear lights work properly and replace them if necessary. Also, clean any dirt, dust, or residue off the headlight covers to prevent dimming.
Check your wiper blades.
Worn-out wiper blades might fail to keep your windshield clear during snowfall. Therefore, it's always best practice to check your wiper blades before any snow arrives. If your wipers can't clean your windshield quickly and efficiently, it's time to replace them.
Stock up on emergency items.
During the winter months, your car could break down, you could get stuck in the snow, or you could get stranded in a major storm. Before hitting the road for the winter, be sure to keep the following items in your vehicle:
- An ice scraper, snow shovel, or broom.
- Sand, rock salt, or other abrasive materials.
- A flashlight.
- Jumper cables.
- A full tank of gas.
- Non-perishable food and water.
- Roadside flares.
- A cellphone and cellphone charger.
Additional winter vehicle preparation tips.
Before your vehicle is good to go for the winter, ensure that your vehicle has the following:
- A securely installed car seat (if you have young children).
- Properly-installed floormats that don't interfere with the brake or gas pedal.
- A properly-working cooling system with adequate coolant.
Winter weather driving tips to help prevent a crash
Once you've prepared your vehicle for the winter, you're ready to hit the road. But first, consider these safety tips to reduce your chances of a crash.
Plan for inclement weather.
Inclement winter weather is often an inconvenience for Connecticut drivers. But without proper planning, it can be dangerous. Whether you're a daily commuter or planning on traveling, be sure to check weather forecasts and traffic reports periodically. If the forecast calls for snow, sleet, freezing rain, or flash freezing, here's what you should do:
- Avoid traveling altogether if you're able to.
- Can't stay home? Give yourself more time than usual to reach your destination.
- Familiarize yourself with the route you're taking and be aware of possible detours.
- If anyone is expecting you, let them know when you'll likely arrive and which route you're taking.
Reduce your speed.
While you can't control the weather, you can control how you drive. It takes much longer to stop on snowy, slushy, and icy roads than on dry roads. Plus, heavy snowfall and snow squalls significantly reduce visibility. To mitigate the risk of a crash, be sure to:
- Drive at a reasonable speed.
- Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
- Keep your eyes on the road.
- Keep your hands on the wheel.
Keep an eye out for black ice.
Black ice occurs when water (often from melted snow) refreezes and blends in with the pavement. Since it's a transparent and thin layer of ice, it's often hard to detect, even on mostly dry roads. Black ice typically forms on overpasses that are exposed to high winds. They also form in wooded areas and other spots that lack sunlight. It can also occur on wet roads when temperatures drop significantly.
Here are some ways to protect yourself from black ice:
- Keep your eyes on the road.
- Reduce your speed when approaching overpasses and shaded areas.
- Ease off the gas pedal.
- Avoid hitting the brakes.
- Gently and slowly turn the steering wheel on curvy roads.
Vishno Law Firm fights on behalf of injured motorists.
If you've been injured in a crash because of another driver's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Vishno Law Firm has been fighting for the rights of injured motorists in Fairfield County since 1990. Contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We offer legal representation on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no fees unless we win your case.