Winter is on the way for residents around Baltimore County, Maryland, which means it is a good time for a reminder on driving safely when hazardous weather hits. According to the US Department of Transportation, diminished road surface friction and limited vehicle maneuverability are among the top contributing factors that result in increased crash risk in snowy conditions. Plus, road speeds fall by as much as 40% in heavy snow, primarily due to accumulation and visibility issues; the situation can cause serious problems for motorists unprepared for the slower traffic that lies ahead. Whether you are commuting locally, running errands, or taking long-distance trips, keep these winter driving safety tips in mind to reduce the chances of a dangerous auto accident.
Winter Maintenance Tips
Safety for cold weather driving should begin before you even get behind the wheel of your car. Follow this checklist to ensure you and your vehicle are prepared for winter conditions.
- Check your tires for the proper inflation level.
- Do not mix different types of tires, such as radial and bias-ply. The construction of a tire has an impact on how well it responds to steering, braking, and road conditions. Inconsistencies can lead to accidents.
- Never warm up your car in an enclosed space, such as a garage. Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly.
- Make sure to keep at least a half tank of gas in your car to avoid freeze-ups in the gas lines.
- Avoid using cruise control when operating your vehicle on slick or slippery roadways.
- Always wear your seatbelt when driving.
Driving in Snow and Sleet
In general, you should drive at a slower than normal rate of speed in snow or sleet conditions. Where you would normally allow around three to four seconds to bring your vehicle to a stop, you should increase your safe stopping speed to approximately eight to 10 seconds. In addition:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly, so that your tires maintain proper traction and avoid skidding.
- Do not radically reduce speed when going up a slippery hill. You could actually slow down so much that your vehicle will begin to slip backwards due to gravity.
- Avoid “slamming” on your brakes where possible. Often, your car will respond by beginning to slide, and it can be difficult to regain control – regardless of whether you have anti-lock brakes.
- Properly prepare for long-distance trips. You should make sure to get plenty of rest before your journey, pack cold weather clothing, check your spare tire, and load up other safety equipment.
There may be little you can do to avoid accidents entirely, but you do have options if you are hurt in an auto crash. With the help of an experienced car accident lawyer, you can file a claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company and recover compensation for your injuries. Attorney Michael A. Freedman has represented many car accident victims throughout Baltimore County, assisting them in settlement negotiations with an insurer and in court. Please contact our Owings Mills, MD office if you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.
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