Raleigh, North Carolina does not have winter weather like Buffalo, New York or Chicago fortunately. But the Triangle area still has its share of inclement weather during the winter months, making roads hazardous. In fact, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting snow for Raleigh throughout the rest of 2015 and into 2016, with colder-than-normal temperatures and snowfall being heaviest in mid to late December and early February. Icy periods in early and late January are also anticipated. Let’s hope the Old Farmer’s Alamanac is wrong!
As temperatures drop in Raleigh and the rest of the state, and the probability of driving on slick roads increases, it’s important to prepare yourself for winter driving. Here are some tips for getting you through this winter safely, without a winter car accident occurring.
Weather events greatly affect roads and driving conditions. According to U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration – Road Weather Management Program, wind can affect visibility and vehicle performance. Precipitation can affect pavement friction, visibility, vehicle performance, and driver capabilities.
On average, there are 211,000 crashes each year that are snow/sleet-related in the U.S., according to The Road Weather Management Program. Another 175,233 crashes occur on slushy pavement. Icy roads are linked to 154,580 crashes each year. In total, weather-related traffic crashes resulted in more than 6000 fatalities and 480,000 injuries.
As temperatures start to drop, the time to prepare your vehicle for winter weather in order to prevent a cold weather car accident is now. In an interview with WRAL.com, Dr. Allen Mask encourages drivers to:
Fill up the gas tank and keep it full throughout the winter, especially if a big storm is expected;
Check your battery, oil, and antifreeze levels;
Get your tires checked, and make sure air pressure levels are where they should be – overfilled or underinflated tires can be dangerous;
Make sure your car’s heating and defrost systems are both working as they should;
Check your brakes and braking fluid;
Add a wintertime mixture of cleanser to your windshield wiper fluid to prevent freezing.
The AAA Auto Club also recommends making sure that your headlights are kept clean.
In addition to visiting the mechanic and making sure that all parts of your vehicle are running smoothly, you should put together a winter emergency kit to store in your vehicle in case a breakdown or accident occurs, or you get stuck.
Some handy things to keep in your winter emergency kit include jumper cables, a small shovel (which can be very handy in the event that you need to dig your car out of the snow), a flashlight and extra batteries for the flashlight, an extra set of warm winter clothes and good boots, nonperishable food items, an extra water, a blanket, and a basic first aid kit. If a winter car accident does occur, these items will help you to be prepared.
You should never drive the same speed in the snow, ice, or rain that you would on a clear and sunny day. When the roads are wet, it takes longer for your car to stop, and traveling at an unsafe speed will lengthen the stopping time. Visibility is often reduced when it is snowy or raining, making traveling too quickly that much more dangerous. It is also harder to control a vehicle when the weather is bad and the road is slippery.
When weather is precarious, slow your speed down and take your time. Do not rush. Even if you are running late, traveling at an unsafe speed increases your risk of being involved in a cold weather car accident.
Driving on ice is very difficult to do safely. Tips for Driving on Snow and Ice, provided by WRAL.com, recommend avoiding driving in bad winter weather at all if possible. Unless driving is absolutely necessary, stay home to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident.
If you do have to drive during a storm or when the roads are icy, exercise extreme caution. Turn, accelerate, and brake as slowly as you can, and do not try to power your way up an icy hill – doing so can lead to your tires spinning out. If you start to skid out of control, do not begin braking or turning wildly. Instead, take your foot off the brake and try to regain control of your vehicle, and do not accelerate until you once again have control of your car.
Distractions while driving are dangerous at all times of the year, but when the weather is poor and driving demands even more attention than normal, driving while distracted can be deadly. When you get behind the wheel of your car, put your cell phone away, resist the urge to fiddle with the radio, and keep your eyes on the road.
With the holidays approaching, you may be tempted to have a beverage and then get behind the wheel. Alcohol-related accidents increase during the holidays because of the many parties and occasions where alcohol is served. If you attend a holiday get together this season, plan to stay sober or have a designated sober driver.
If you are involved in an auto accident this winter caused by another driver, consulting with experienced Raleigh auto accident attorneys can be helpful in providing you with an understanding of your legal options and how to proceed. From gathering evidence to filing a claim and negotiating a fair accident settlement, the Raleigh auto accident attorneys at Hardison & Cochran have the experience to help. If you have questions after a car accident, want a professional opinion about whether an insurance company’s accident settlement offer is fair or want to learn more about what compensation you can recover, call us today or contact us online to request a free case consultation.