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Seven Steps to Keeping Safe While Driving in Winter

With reduced daylight hours and often dangerous road conditions, winter is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road. Here are seven things you can do to help keep yourself safe and avoid a car accident while you are driving during this season:

1. Maintain your vehicle
An essential part of remaining safe during the winter involves keeping your vehicle in good condition. This means ensuring your tires are properly inflated, your battery is properly charged, your brakes are in good condition, and otherwise ensuring your car is ready to handle the problems that can come during the winter. A poorly maintained car may be harder to control, increasing the likelihood of a car accident, so ensuring your car is in good condition is important for your safety.

2. Avoid driving during bad weather
When possible, you should avoid driving in bad weather, such as during snow, rain, or hail. Inclement weather can not only make the road more dangerous to drive on, but it can also obstruct visibility, making it harder to see dangers in front of you. Thus, if you can avoid driving during bad weather, you should, or else place yourself and anyone else with you in unnecessary danger.

3. Take it slow after a storm
The danger of inclement weather does not end when the storm does. Rain can easily freeze over in cold weather, turning into patches of ice that are not always visible to the naked eye. Snow and sleet can also make the ground slippery, causing your vehicle to lose traction on the road. While you cannot always avoid these hazards, you can at least take it slow, which decreases the chance of losing traction and skidding out.

4. Keep your eyes on the road
Distracted driving remains a major hazard to drivers everywhere, and not simply because of text messages and social media on your cell phone. Far too many people engage in unrelated activities while they are driving, such as eating, putting on makeup, or using their cell phone. In addition, people can also be distracted by loud noises, yelling, or conversations happening in the car. Dangerous road conditions and reduced daylight visibility require even greater focus. Eliminating as many distractions as possible is important for ensuring your eyes, and your mind, stay on the road ahead of you, which minimizes the risk of an automobile accident.

5. Do not drive while you are tired
It is not uncommon for people to run themselves ragged during the holiday season, rushing between taking care of work, family obligations, and making holiday preparations. This means that many people are driving around while tired, putting them at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Exhaustion can make drivers slower to react to situations on the road, increasing the risk of an accident. Always make sure to get a good night’s sleep, and don’t be afraid to pull off to the side of the road if you feel yourself drifting to sleep behind the wheel.

6. Keep your distance from other vehicles
Tailgating is always a dangerous behavior for any driver, but even drivers who typically maintain a safe distance from other drivers can find themselves unable to stop when another car suddenly stops in front of them. Slippery road conditions can increase the amount of time it takes for a car to come to a stop, meaning a typical “safe distance” from the car in front of you may not be enough during the winter. Ideally, you should give the car in front of you eight to ten seconds to ensure you have enough room to come to a sudden stop.

7. Have an emergency preparedness kit ready
No matter the season, there is always the risk your car will break down and you will be stuck somewhere until help can arrive. This could mean being stuck in a winter storm for hours, depending on where your car broke down. In anticipation of this, you should have an emergency kit with nonperishable food, water, a first aid kit, a radio, and other essential items to help you if you get stuck somewhere. This may not help your car, but it can at least minimize your own risk of harm until help can arrive.

The New York personal injury attorneys at Duffy & Duffy have decades of experience in handling personal injury and medical malpractice issues. With our offices conveniently located in Uniondale, we are ready to assist you with your case and ensure it receives the personal attention it deserves. If you want to learn more or receive a free consultation, give us a call at (516) 394 – 4200, or visit our contact page.