Winter has come, and with it comes all its unique driving difficulties. Even though Alabama is not usually bombarded with snow every winter, there are still precautions you should take to make sure you are ready for winter wonderland roads. So, utilize these tips from Pitman & Petro Attorneys at Law to help you drive safely this winter!
Inspect Your Vehicle
Before you even think about driving during the winter, you should thoroughly inspect your vehicle. If you can, have a mechanic take a look at your vehicle. How is the oil? Does the windshield wiper fluid have anti-ice agent? Is your gas tank full? What about your car battery? Do your seat heaters work properly? Are there any leaks? Do your headlights work correctly? These are all important things to keep in mind before you go on the road. Making sure your vehicle is in optimal condition is paramount for a safe, pleasant driving experience, especially during the winter.
Check Your Tires
Yes, checking your tires is technically a part of inspecting your vehicle. However, your tires are so important that we thought they should be mentioned on their own. Before you drive, check your tire pressure. It may appear a bit lower than usual, but that’s just the effect low temperatures have on air pressure, and thus your tire pressure.
You may want to consider investing in winter/snow tires for your vehicle. Snow tires use a softer rubber than traditional tires, and are therefore more flexible and not as rigid when it comes to winter weather. Always check the tread of your tires, as well, since tires that lack sufficient tread will be especially troublesome during the winter months.
Additionally, chains are recommended. If you know the roads are going to be slippery or icy, you should definitely put chains on your tires. Chains allow for more friction, and therefore keep your vehicle more grounded on the road. This is always appreciated during the winter, when vehicles tend to be more prone to skid and slip out of control.
Know the Conditions
Before driving, you should check to make sure the conditions allow for safe driving. Snowstorms are rare in Alabama, but even so, you should check the weather before you get behind the wheel. Tune your radio to the appropriate station for information about weather and any accidents on the route you’ll be taking.
Additionally, a multitude of weather apps are offered on smartphones. These apps can help give you an idea of whether you should go out and drive at all. Remember, if the weather is too harsh, stay home! It’s always better to stay indoors than risk a serious injury on the road.
Know Your Route
Once the weather permits you to drive, you should plan your route carefully. To do this, you should be familiar with the area you’ll be driving through. If traveling to a new place, you should use a GPS. Most smartphones offer free GPS apps to guide you to your destination. Be careful, though. Even if you are already familiar with your route, unexpected events can happen. Stay alert, and keep an eye out for reckless drivers and others who may not be as familiar with the route as you are.
Drive Extra Cautiously
The conditions of winter require that everyone drives more cautiously than usual. Roads are cold and slippery, and snowfall can decrease visibility. Due to these factors, you should drive slower than normal. In fact, the following distance delay should be increased from the usual 3 seconds to as much as 6 to 10 seconds.
Yes, this may seem a bit extreme. But tailgating vehicles in front of you is a bad idea, especially if the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly. You may not react in time, and even if you do, your vehicle may not stop in time. So, keep a generous distance between yourself and other drivers.
You should always avoid distractions while driving, but winter is especially dangerous for talking or texting while on the road. Even if you plan on using a hands-free device, you should keep your eyes on the road and avoid the temptation to talk or text on your phone. Put the phone down and stay vigilant.
Noisy passengers can be distracting and disrupt your focus. It is important to concentrate on the road as much as possible since even a thin layer of ice or snow can cause your vehicle to slide or skid. Also, make sure your radio isn’t too loud. Having the radio too loud can drown out important traffic signals that you must pay attention to while driving.
Follow Traffic Rules
Many accidents are caused year-round when people ignore traffic rules, and winter is no exception. Winter driving in Alabama requires careful attention to traffic rules. Do not speed! A large portion of wintertime accidents are due to the driver speeding and not being able to slow down in time. Also, be especially on the lookout for hidden traffic signs.
Sometimes, snow can completely cover stop signs and other important traffic signals, so drive slowly to avoid missing them. Don’t risk running yellow or red lights in the winter, and don’t be in a hurry to pass people, either.
Look for Hazards
It’s important to be aware of anything that could potentially turn your pleasant journey into a catastrophic one. Keep an eye out for black ice! Black ice is a thin, sometimes transparent layer of ice on the roads that make is incredibly difficult for vehicles to stop. If you think you’re driving on black ice, slow down!
Look around and see if accidents lie ahead of you. If you do see an upcoming accident, that could be a sign that something hazardous is upcoming in the road. Drive with extra caution and keep yourself safe.
Prepare for Emergencies
You should always keep emergency supplies in your vehicle in case something goes wrong. Keep a first-aid kit handy in case of injury. If snowed in, call emergency service to come rescue you. In the meantime, you should have a blanket, some snacks, and bottles of water to keep you comfortable while they are on their way to you.
If you keep your heater on, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow and debris. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause poisonous, odorless carbon monoxide gas to leak into your vehicle. Slightly crack your window to make sure that if there is a leak, the gas escapes and does no harm to you.
Injured from Winter Driving in Alabama?
If you suffer from an automobile-related injury, contact Pitman & Petro Attorneys at Law immediately. We are experienced personal injury lawyers that work hard for the compensation you deserve.
Call us anytime at (256) 533-5000 or visit us at our office Monday – Friday from 8 am – 5 pm. Additionally, you can contact us online and check out our LiveChat feature. Consultations are free, and we do not collect fees unless we win your case. So don’t wait, contact Pitman & Petro today!
The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.