Driving during precipitation can put the best driver on edge. When that precipitation is snow, it’s much more anxiety-inducing. Knowing some simple tips can make the driving experience safer and less stressful for everyone on the road and avoid an accident. Here’s what to know before you get behind the wheel on a snowy day:
- Gradually accelerate. Winter driving is slow driving, and your tires need time to get purchase in the snow – even snow tires. Avoid hitting the gas too hard and your tires won’t wind up spinning out under you in packed snow.
- Gradually decelerate. Slamming on your brakes in a snow storm is asking for an accident, but it’s also instinct when drivers get nervous on the road. Practice slowing down at a gradual pace.
- Don’t speed. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to speed up when traffic is light. To maintain adequate control of your car, keep it at a reasonable speed. A good rule of thumb for driving in the snow is 10 mph less than posted.
- Give other cars room. Eight seconds of space is generally enough to stop if the car ahead of you has hit the brakes during good road conditions. In snow, that number should be more like 10 to 12 seconds.
- Avoid lane switching. Find the lane with the clearest tracks, and stick to it. If you are lane hopping and the snow has been cleared from the highway, you will increase your risk of an accident by hitting snowy patches. What worse, those snowy patches may be hiding ice.
- Avoid hard stops. Driving on snow is, in part, about physics. Stopping kills the grip your car has made on the road. Gradually slow down before red lights and stop signs. Start touching the brake at least the length of a football field before where you need to come to a stop.
- Redirect your path for hills. If you know your car can handle hills in the snow, then hit them, but for most cars, the slickness of hills become easy places to get stuck and block traffic. Driving slowly helps, but your safest bet may be to avoid hills if you can.
If you find yourself sliding, don’t panic. It can be hard to overcome your instincts, but remain calm, avoid braking and turn into the direction of the slide. Turning against the slide will get you nowhere but frustrated. Winter driving isn’t for the faint of heart, but these tips can help keep you safe when the snow starts to fall.
If you ended up in an accident follow the following steps:
- Call 911.
- If you are able to, take photos of the cars involved in the crash.
- Do not decline medical attention if medical personnel suggests that you get treatment.
- Once you have been medically examined and released, consider contacting an attorney to be certain that your rights are protected.
- Ask your attorney to contact your insurance company to report the crash.
- Ask your attorney to help you fill out all insurance forms.
- Make sure you bring your no-fault insurance information to every doctor’s visit so that you do not incur any medical bills personally.
- Do not speak to any individual about the crash without your attorney being present. Insurance companies have adjusters who often attempt to take statements from people before they can hire an attorney. You have the right to determine if you want to cooperate with the other side’s insurance adjuster.