At Bishop and Hayes P.C., located in Joplin Missouri, Springfield Missouri and Miami Oklahoma, we would like to help you and your family stay safe in winter weather conditions. In the Ozarks and 4-State Area winter, weather can be unpredictable. Snow, ice, sleet and rain increase our chances of being in an auto accident. The best tip we can provide for winter driving is to stay home if possible, or at least try to wait for snow plows and sanding crews to complete their work. If you have an auto accident on a snowy or icy road, you’ll certainly be late, or worse, injured. However, since we cannot always call in to work claiming a “snow day,” we would like to showcase tips you can learn to minimize your chances of being in a car accident while driving in snow.
As auto injury attorneys, we have spent the last 15 years plus working with accident victims and their families. We have worked on cases where our clients were forced to battle snow and ice covered highways like I-44 across and across the greater 4-State Area. We have represented clients injured by passenger vehicles and semi-trucks. From this experience, we would like to showcase these snow driving tips the average driver can follow to minimize the chances of a crash.
Tire Grip, It’s Important
In order to have adequate traction in snow, a tire requires at least 6/32-inch deep tread, according to The Tire Rack. The typical new car will have 10/32-inch tread, while low-profile, high performance will provide little to no grip in snow. So understand your vehicle’s tire profile is an important step of staying safe. Many of us have what is referred to as “all-season” tires, however, these tires don’t necessarily have great snow traction; some will; some will not. If you do not know the tread wear of your tires, it would be very beneficial to stop by your local auto service center where they can quickly test this for you.
Sight, Make Sure You Can See
This might be common sense, but many accidents happen because of visibility impairments as a result of faulty or worn-out windshield wiper blades. A good rule of thumb would be to replace your blades at least every one-two years. In snow, if your vehicle has been covered, clean the inside of your windows thoroughly before you begin driving. Rain-X is a great product you can apply to your windshield, which will help shed water. A great tip is not only applying Rain-X to your windshield, but to the outside of all windows, including your side mirrors. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid. Drain older fluid by running the washers until the new fluid appears. A simple solution for this is to switch fluid colors for winter.
It’s Winter, But Run Your Air-Conditioner
In order to remove frost and condensation from the interior of the windows, turn on your air-conditioner and select the fresh air option. You can set the temperature to warm, but many cars do this automatically when you choose defrost.
Headlights, How Others See You, What You Can See
Use your headlights, especially if your car does not have daytime running lights. The use of headlights helps others see you and helps reduce the chances of another vehicle on our roadways pulling out in front of your vehicle. Make sure your headlights and taillights are clear of snow or ice.
Brakes, They Are Your Friend, Get to Know Them Better
Learn how to get the maximum output from your brakes before an emergency. It’s easy to use antilock brakes; stomp, stay and steer. Stomp on the pedal as if you were trying to break it off. Stay hard on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle. In snow, a little bit of steering goes a long way. When driving on icy roads or roads covered with snow, modify your ABS technique. After you, “stomp” and the ABS starts to cycle, you will feel pulses in the pedal or hear the system working, ease up slightly on the pedal until the pulsing happens only once a second.
For older cars, truck or SUV’s without ABS, you will have to rely on the old-fashioned system. For these cars push the brake pedal hard until the wheels stop rolling, then immediately release the brake enough to allow for the wheels to beg in turning again. Repeat this sequence rapidly. This is not the same as pumping the brake. Your goal is to have the tires produce the maximum grip regardless of whether the surface is snow, ice or damp pavement.
Be On the Lookout for “Black Ice”
If roads look slick, they most likely are. This is especially true with one of the winter’s most dangerous hazards, black ice. Also called glare ice, this is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Test the traction with a smooth brake application or slight turn of the wheel. In Joplin and Springfield pay close attention when crossing our bridges.You must remember where icy roads tend to occur. Bridges and intersections are a common place for ice to develop. Also, wherever water runs across a road will most likely contain ice.
If a slick section of a road causes your vehicle to lose grip while turning, the most common reaction is to continue turning the steering wheel, but this is incorrect. This reaction will only make things worse. If the icy conditions end and the front tire regains grip, your car could dart whichever direction the wheels are pointed. We have witnessed this firsthand where our clients have struck a telephone pole or another vehicle struck our client after over correcting. The unfortunate reality is that there are situations where nothing will prevent a crash, but over steering never helps.
All-Wheel or 4X4 Are Still At Risk
Your vehicle’s technology is not an answer to severe winter weather conditions. All-wheel drive and electronic stability control can get you into trouble by offering a false sense of security. AWD can only help a vehicle accelerate or keep moving. It cannot help you go around a snow-covered turn, much less stop at an icy intersection. ESC can prevent a spinout, but is cannot clear ice from the roads or give your tires more traction. Do not let these features lull you into overestimating the available traction.
Please Stay Safe on Missouri’s Roadways
At Bishop and Hayes P.C., we hope you slow down, take an extra couple of minutes and ensure that you, and your loved ones are practicing driving techniques that will help minimize your chances of being in an auto accident. Regardless of your driving skill or vehicle preparation, there are some winter conditions that simply cannot be conquered. The best thing you can do is stay home if possible.