Wintry weather covers the landscape in a beautiful layer of white, but it also brings a hazard to pavement, the very same roads you must travel on daily. Staying indoor briefly following a major storm allows road crews to complete their work, but at some point you’ll have to take to the road again. Patchy roads, road salt, and black ice are among the hazards waiting you — here’s how to avoid traffic accidents this winter.
1. Prepare your car. Do your part to ensure that your car is ready regardless of the season. In winter, your antifreeze should be clean and topped off. All hoses must be inspected to ensure that they aren’t bulging or breaking. Check the connection clamps too. Use washer fluid especially made for winter weather, with a low freeze point. Ensure that the wiper blades are in excellent condition. Carry an ice scraper with you.
2. Check your tires. All-season tires may be sufficient in most areas of the country, but if you’re subject to frequent snows, then only winter tires or radial tires with chains are sufficient. Place winter tires on all four corners for the best traction. Do likewise with chains if you prefer to use them instead. Always ensure that your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread left. Worn tires should be discarded and replaced.
3. Inspect the battery. Your car’s battery will not directly influence whether you have a traffic accident or not, but it will definitely impact whether you are able to start your car in the first place. Have your battery tested to ensure that it has enough power to survive the winter. Also check the connection points and terminals, cleaning same as needed. If wires are frayed or broken, replace same. Cold weather can sap the life out of your battery, especially if it is weak to begin with.
4. Take it easy. Never assume that cleared roads are entirely safe roads. The hazard you encounter may be the one you never see coming. Black ice is clear ice and is not generally visible to the eye. If you encounter black ice, steering may be impossible and you could lose control of your car. Lower your speed in unsafe conditions, allow for extra braking time, and gradually accelerate when turning corners. If you begin to skid, slowly tap the brakes as you maintain control of the steering wheel.
5. Follow your area’s road warnings. A heavy snow hits and the governor declares a state of emergency. Schools are closed, business is curtailed, and the state has asked drivers to stay off the road for now. Follow these instructions and you’ll give road crews time to get their work done. Once the “all clear” announcement has been given, then you may return to the roads, with caution.
Accidents and Preparation
Do your best and you may still get in a traffic accident. If that happens, ensure that everyone is safe, then call for help. Try to move off to the side of the road, if possible. Activate your emergency flashers and warn other drivers, using emergency reflective triangles or flares, as needed. Exchange driver’s license, registration, and insurance information with the other driver. If your car is incapacitated, call for road service. Obtain a copy of the police report and send a copy to your insurance company.
Drivers can also employ another important measure before taking to the road this winter. Specifically, that would be to bring along an emergency kit, one containing jumper cables, warning flares, tools, a flashlight, and a first-aid kit. A shovel can certainly come in handy, especially if you find yourself stuck in a berm.
Should you find yourself in an accident, you’ll need to look for a body shop to handle the repairs notes Caliber Collision. Here, you should obtain estimates from three shops, compare all three, then choose the shop best suited to handle the work.