Follow These Winter Driving Safety Tips

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), more car crashes occurred in January in 2015 than during any other month in the state. One of the reasons for this increase is dangerous winter weather. Preparing your car for cold weather and knowing how to drive in snow and ice are key in reducing your risk of wintertime wrecks. Before you head out this winter, be sure you read over these winter driving safety tips and know what to keep in your emergency kit.

How should I prepare my vehicle for winter?

For most Pennsylvania residents, preparing passenger cars for cold weather does not require anything more than a quick visit to the local mechanic.

General Maintenance

Each year, you or your mechanic should take a look at the following:

  • Ignition, engine, and battery
  • Antifreeze, washer fluid
  • Lights, including hazards, brake lights, and turn signal lights
  • Heater and exhaust system (A blocked exhaust could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.)
  • Defroster
  • Brakes

Oil

Your mechanic can tell you whether or not you need winter grade oil, based on your vehicle, driving habits, and the area where you live.

Tires

For the vast majority of people in Pennsylvania, mud and snow rated all-season radial tires are the best option. The only reason you might want to consider swapping out for dedicated winter tires is if you must drive to work regardless of weather conditions. Some people opt to carry tire chains or cables during the winter months, in case of an emergency. Also, check for proper inflation, because cold weather can significantly affect air pressures.

What should I keep in my car in case I am stranded?

The Red Cross recommends keeping an emergency kit in your car in case of a wintertime accident that leaves you stranded. At the very least, you kit should contain:

Cell Phone with an Extra Charger

The last thing you need when you are stranded is a dead cell phone. Keep an extra car charger or consider buying a portable charging block. (Remember you need to charge the block after you use it.) You can get them at almost any store. You might even want to keep an extra phone in the car just in case.

Consider keeping an emergency radio with extra batteries in the trunk as well.

Extra Warm Clothing

Being stranded in the cold is no joke. Make sure you have packed yourself an extra change of clothes, a blanket or two, and a winter hat and pair of gloves.

The blanket can keep you warm or keep your clothes dry if you need to perform any car maintenance.

First-aid Kit

If you are involved in an accident and cannot get help right away, a first-aid kit can be a lifesaver. Make sure your first-aid kit has all the essentials:

  • Band-Aids
  • Antiseptic
  • Gloves
  • Gauze
  • Burn cream
  • Scissors
  • Extra medications

Notebook with Necessary Information

Keep a notebook with all your important information. Make sure it includes:

  • Emergency contacts
  • Insurance information
  • Any important medical information
  • A pen or pencil

You might also want to grab a map and compass and put them in there. Most of us rely on our GPS apps, but if your phone dies or you lose signal, a map and compass can save you a night of driving in the wrong direction.

Food and Drinks

Make sure you pack a few bottles of water and some nonperishable snacks if you get stranded.

Roadside Emergency Kit

You should have one of these all year round. You can pick one up from any store but make sure it has:

  • A jack
  • A toolkit
  • Road flares or reflective triangles
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Cat litter, sand, or similar material for traction

What are the best winter driving tips?

Driving in snow and ice requires different techniques than driving on dry roads. Knowing how to drive in all types of winter weather is one key to reducing your risk of a weather-related crash.

  • Keep your gas tank as full as possible. An empty gas tank can freeze.
  • Avoid driving when sleepy, distracted, or intoxicated.
  • Always steer in the direction you want to go.
  • Take things slow, including speeding up and slowing down.
  • Leave more distance between you and other cars.
  • Do not hit your brakes unless absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t accelerate or brake going up hills, use inertia to top the hill

AAA also recommends simply staying home if you do not need to go out.

This is especially sage advice for the first snow of the year. Every year, thousands of accidents occur during the first episode of winter weather. While most are minor fender benders, others are serious injury crashes. Simply avoiding the roads during this period can greatly reduce your risk of a winter weather accident.

What if I suffer injuries in a winter weather crash due to another driver’s negligence?

No matter how hard you work to reduce your risk of a winter weather crash, there is no way to ensure all other drivers took the same precautions. At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we represent clients who suffered injuries due to the negligence of another driver.

We can help you learn more about your legal rights to recover compensation for serious injuries sustained in a winter weather crash with a negligent driver.

Contact us today at 215-486-8196 to schedule a free case evaluation.