It’s that time of year again where the weather has cooled down, and so have the roads. Winter weather can lead to unpredictable, dangerous conditions for drivers. Since Texas is usually on the warmer side, locals don’t get too much practice driving on slick, slippery roads.
But when those once-in-a-lifetime winter storms come in with sleet and, quite seldom, snow, it is better to err on the side of caution. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) strongly advises those residing in Texas experiencing this kind of weather to avoid the roads altogether, but if you absolutely must drive, proceed with extra caution.
As the new year makes its way further into this wintery season, the experienced Houston car accident lawyers of Lapeze & Johns want to take a look into the helpful safety tips that can get us where we need to be in one piece should those icy–or even snow-covered–streets ever come back.
Why Road Conditions and Winter Weather Alerts Come in Handy
Before you think about driving, look out for potentially threatening road conditions. These include:
- Loss of pavement friction affected by damp, snow-covered or icy conditions
- Limited visibility as a result of fog, rain, or vehicle spray
- Obstruction of lanes as a result of standing water or plowed or blowing snow
- Damaged infrastructure (e.g. a washed-out road)
Winter weather alerts are also useful for situations such as these. The National Weather Service issues winter weather advisories, watches, and warnings based on local guidelines if there are signs of snow, blowing snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, wind chill, and extreme temperatures. Common terms used by meteorologists include:
- Outlooks – These are issued prior to a winter storm watch when forecasters believe winter storm conditions may develop. Its purpose is to give people a heads up to prepare for a shift in weather.
- Advisories – Issued when unexpected weather is hazardous enough to warn those who must travel or drive.
- Watches – Often issued 24 to 36 hours in advance when conditions seem significantly dangerous enough, but the location, occurrence, or timing of the weather isn’t set in stone. This can still make traveling hazardous.
- Warnings – Warnings are issued when the winter weather is a threat to life or property, and travel is not only a challenge but also almost impossible. This is when you’d be advised to delay traveling plans until conditions improve. If you choose to travel, you’re advised to take a winter survival kit with you just in case and to stay with your vehicle and wait for assistance to show up if you get stranded
6 Driving Tips for Winter Weather
Once you get an idea of the road conditions from winter weather alerts, you should be able to drive in a safe manner despite the weather, just so long as you follow these tips:
- Slow down. Speed limits are set based on normal road conditions, and winter weather makes these conditions unstable, so be patient and give yourself more time.
- On ice or snow, keep your following distance between you and other vehicles at least three times the normal following distance. In the rare instance that snow should hit our bluebonnet-filled fields, keep a distance of at least 200 feet from snow removal equipment.
- Try avoiding sharp turns or braking last minute at all costs. If you slide, lightly ease off the gas pedal or brakes, and turn your steering wheel towards the direction of the skid until you have control again.
- Be extra careful when crossing bridges, ramps, overpasses, and shaded areas. These areas tend to accumulate water that can turn into black ice.
- If stopped, accelerate at a slow rate for better traction.
- If you get stuck in snow or ice, put sand, kitty litter, or cardboard on the ground in front of your tires to help you get traction.
In the event that you and/or a loved one are involved in a car accident because of winter weather, turn your car engine off completely, turn your hazard lights on, do not leave the scene of the accident. Then, call the police, exchange insurance information with other drivers involved, take pictures and notes of the incident, and ask the officer to file a collision report.
Experienced Houston Car Accident Attorneys Looking to Serve You
If you, a family member, or friend has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, do not hesitate to contact the law firm of Lapeze & Johns to speak with a trustworthy and dependable Houston personal injury attorney today. You can give us details about the accident and your injuries, and we will guide you through the legal process and address any questions or concerns you may have.