Texas has had quite an eventful winter season and winter storm Inga continued the unusually cold weather with frigid temperatures and icy roads that made traveling all throughout the state and Gulf Coast especially dangerous. The winter weather caused havoc, leaving roads dangerously slick and causing 100s of car accidents in Texas, shutting down interstates in Louisiana, and closing airport runways throughout the South.
With two more months left of winter, we are likely to experience another arctic blast here in the Gulf Coast region. Because of this, our Houston personal injury attorneys at Lapeze & Johns law firm would like to take the time to inform readers about the causes of winter accidents and the importance of winter driving safety. With 24 percent of weather-related traffic accidents occurring on snowy or icy pavement, and with many Texas natives not having much experience driving in such hazardous conditions, we know that winter weather can quickly lead to a car accident – or even a fatality.
As you hit the road this winter season, keep in mind the following information.
Common Causes of Winter Accidents to Watch out For
When winter weather hits, drivers should always look to be more cautious and look to change their typical driving patterns. Unfortunately, not many people do and this recklessness leads to an increase in car crashes.
Using common sense, having respect for the rules, and remaining vigilant against common causes of winter accidents will go a long way to keep you and your family safe. Beware of:
- 1. Slippery roads
- 2. Fog or poor visibility
- 3. Bad car conditions
As temperatures drop and rain begins to fall, roads and highways become increasingly slippery, making it dangerous to drive. This is especially true of black ice as it is difficult to spot. Often, drivers who hit a patch of black ice and feel themselves sliding uncontrollably may brake hard, causing their vehicle to spin out of control and potentially cause an accident.
Winter precipitation and/or fog can significantly reduce your ability to see ahead, especially in the early mornings before the sun has risen. Fog can reduce visibility to less than a mile, and when mixed with high speeds, can mean objects are not visible to the driver until the very last second.
The condition of your car and its various components are just as important as road conditions when driving in winter weather. Bad tires with little traction can easily lead to a car accident on slippery roads. Old or improperly working headlights can lower visibility and make it unnecessarily challenging to drive. Broken windshield wipers or defroster fans can minimize your ability to see out your windshield. Whether you’re going to be taking a long trip or driving to-and-fro for work and other reasons, make sure your car is winter ready.
Driving Safety Tips for Winter Weather
Practicality and a concern for the well being of all drivers on the road can go a long way in preventing an accident. As you drive out on those wintery roads this season, keep in mind the following tips:
- Drive slower – It makes perfect sense to drive the speed limit on a beautiful, warm summer day when the roads are fine. But when you’re driving on icy roads, use some common sense and driver slower than you usually might. Speed plays a major role in many car accidents and just slowing down a bit is one of the best measures you can take to protect yourself and others on the road.
- Leave additional space – Slippery roads require additional distance to come to a complete stop. You should keep more than two lengths between you and the driver in front of you. Tailgating is only going to lead to an accident.
- Avoid distractions – While this safety tip is valuable at any time of the year, it can be especially important during the winter season when roads are little more hazardous and the sun goes down earlier. Stay off your cell phone, avoid other electronic devices, and remained focused on the traffic around you.
- Don’t panic – Even if you begin to skid, don’t rush to slam on the brakes. Take your foot off the gas and allow the car to slow down on its own to regain control.
- Preparation is key – If you’re planning for a long trip, look ahead at the weather conditions and make adjustments to your plans or route accordingly.
- Check your insurance coverage – This can prove to be absolutely vital, especially if you get into an accident that is not your fault. Make sure you have the proper coverage in place that covers damages to your car and any bodily injuries you may have received.
- Leave early – Bad weather might mean you have to leave 30 minutes earlier than usual but if that’s what you have to do to remain safe, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Leaving to work or to drop off kids at school on your regular schedule may cause you to rush and place you at a greater risk of harm.
- Prepare with a winter safety kit – Emergency kits are always a valuable tool to have in your car, especially during the winter months. They should include:
- Extra water and food
- Cell phone with charger
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- Instant hand warmers
- An ice scraper and shovel
- First aid kit
- Towing rope
- Jumper cables
- Sandbag to help with traction
Following these safety tips can really save a life.