More than 70% of U.S. roads are located in areas classified as snowy regions or those that receive a minimum of 5 inches of snow annually. If you regularly drive on the 30% of roads that don’t receive a minimum of 5 inches you might be able to gloss over this article, though it is still best to be prepared. Look no further than Atlanta last winter and “Snowjam” that brought a record of only 2.6 inches, yet lead to the gridlock of trapped vehicles mirroring scenes from “The Walking Dead.” This catastrophe serves as a shining example that bad winter road conditions can exist almost anywhere, and bad winter driving habits can contribute to these dangerous conditions. These habits can usually be broken down into things you can do while you are behind the wheel and those you can do before you are behind the wheel. Eliminating the bad habits below can reduce your risks on the road and help avoid the costly increases associated with an accident.
Bad Habits to Break BEFORE You Get Behind the Wheel
- Not Monitoring Road Conditions Before Your Trip
Whether you prefer the local news affiliate, a national weather channel, or the web; it is important to get a current weather forecast before making your trip. Getting an up to the minute overview of the traffic around you can help you plan a safe route for trips you have to take. Alternatively, if the voyage is not necessary, knowing road conditions can help you avoid it all together.
- Not Changing to Winter Tires and Poor Tire Maintenance
If you live in an area where snow is likely, it is a good idea to change to winter tires when the weather begins to turn cold. Winter tires provide better traction, handling, and braking in snow, ice, or slush covered roadways. If you live in an area that rarely experiences snowy conditions, all-season tires are likely ok. Regardless of which tires you choose, it is important to pay close attention to the air pressure and tread level of your tires and check these levels more often. For more information on recommended levels, look to your owner’s manual.
- Not Keeping Windows and Lights Clear
Seems simple enough but many people are guilty of not performing this task fully because it is too cold outside or not leaving sufficient time before your trip. Not only is failing to do this simple task extremely unsafe, it is also illegal in some states.
Bad Habits to Break WHILE You’re Behind the Wheel
- Excessive Speeds for Road Conditions
Too Many drivers fail to drive at reduced speeds during wintry conditions. An overconfidence in one’s driving or car capability can lead to dangerous crashes. The poor roads and high speeds lead to less traction, less control, and more jackknifes. Along the same lines, cornering too quickly leads to loss of control. Drivers should reduce speeds altogether when wintry conditions but especially when turning.
- Failing to Check Cross-traffic Prior to Reaching and Traveling Through an Intersection.
While you can control your speed, you cannot monitor the speeds of other drivers. Many times during wintry conditions, cross traffic will skid through the intersection, unable to stop in time. An early visual check may spot this development in time to avoid a crash.
- Not Eliminating Distractions
Winter road conditions require even more attention and concentration than when roads are dry. When you get in your vehicle, put away your cell phone or other devices to avoid temptation and avoid eating or drinking if at all possible. If you are riding with passengers, it is a good idea to let them be responsible for climate or radio changes so you can keep two hands on the wheel. If you have children, calmly ask them before the trip to ride quietly to help you concentrate on the road.
- Driving While Fatigued
Driving in wintry conditions is more stressful than ideal conditions and can lead to increase driver fatigue. This is even more evident on longer trips around the holidays. When making your travel plans, you should work in more rest stops and know when to call it a day.
Understanding the challenges and dangers associated with winter driving and taking proper precautions is crucial to you and your passengers safety. Being prepared and adjusting your driving habits both before and during your trip can keep you safer on the road during the winter months. It can also keep your finances healthy by avoiding expensive accidents and a possible lawsuit. You can avoid being one of these people by eliminating the bad habits above. Again though, you can’t control other drivers, and sometimes their bad habits lead to an injury of your own. In such circumstances it is highly recommended to find a lawyer such as David Heil to help provide legal advice.
The writer, Brian Levesque, has seen a number of accidents stemming from reckless driving, and so writes on the side about ways to prevent individuals from becoming yet another statistic. If you wish to learn more about Brian you can visit on Google+.