What you need to know when you're on the go this winter
Upstate New York and Pennsylvania roads in the winter time are dicey at best. Here’s what you need to know to be prepared and stay safe out there. No one knows what’s just around the corner. So In the case of bad circumstances like being snowbound or having a car accident, let’s also talk about what you need to know and what to do next if something goes wrong out on the roads this winter.
Weather tests your car’s mechanical abilities, but treacherous conditions test your abilities as a driver.
The bulk of all car and truck accidents are due to driver error. That’s magnified when the weather and road conditions are bad. Preparation, like anything, is still the best medicine for making sure you stay safe out there. What do you need to know before you go?
Know your car. What can it do, what can’t it do in the snow? Does it have front, rear, part-time or full-time four wheel drive, all wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, what kind of tires? What does all this mean to you the driver? What helps you what doesn’t help you? Do other family members know that drive this vehicle know what the car can and can’t do?
Find an empty parking lot and try some of these features out. Test braking distances, turning ability of the car in snow, the tires’ traction capabilities, your OWN capabilities.
Good Snow tires. In this part of the world, nothing makes a bigger difference. Some that may have rear wheel wonder whether they should put sand bags in the trunk. You can – maybe up to 20 lbs, but don’t go overboard. The more weight you put in the trunk, the more likely your front end of the car will lose traction as it’s lifted off the ground.
Here are all the items to check on your car. Ideally take it into a service shop that’s recommended for its’ five star service and have them do all this for you:
Again, check the tires. Tire pressure (which always drops as the weather gets colder) is a key component in safe driving of your vehicle. Your cooling system and antifreeze should be double checked and ensured you have enough. Good windshield wipers are critical along with windshield washer fluid. Ideally you carry an extra jug of washer fluid in the trunk just in case. Keep your gas tank as close to full as possible. Make sure your charging system, battery, and belts are up to par. Does your rear window defroster work properly?
Be prepared with basic supplies just in case. If you become snowbound, get stranded, now’s the time to ensure you have that cell phone on you and charged. You must prep your car before going out in the snow, sleet, ice, with a hefty ice and snow brush, a small shovel, bag of sand, extra washer fluid. Ideally have a blanket, extra clothing, gloves, hat, an old pair of boots. Pack extra food and water in your car at all times in the winter. Make sure before going out you clean off your car ENTIRELY including your headlights.
Out on the road. Do everything SLOWLY. Use your gas and brake pedals as gently as possible. Let’s not do any unnecessary skidding and sliding out there. Go slow. Leave enough distance between you and the next vehicle. Obviously even more in the winter than you do on summer roads. Here’s more to know before you go:
- Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
- Of course you never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
- If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
- Always look and steer where you want to go.
- As always, use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
IF you do become snowbound, stay with your vehicle. Your car provides temporary shelter and protection. It alsomakes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
What happens in the case of a car accident?
Your safety and well-being is always the first consideration. Stay at the Scene. Never leave the accident scene until it’s appropriate to do so. Check on all drivers and passengers to ensure everyone is ok. Get medical attention for yourself or anyone who needs it, then call the police.
The Stanley Law Accident App is one example of something you can have on hand to use as a quick checklist to ensure you retrieve everything you need to at the scene of the accident. Accurate witness testimony, pictures, information is critical. The best time to assess and document all of this is at the scene itself. Regardless of whether you sustain a serious injury or who’s at fault at the time, all of this information is still helpful for insurance and for any future medical treatment you may need to utilize. If you do believe you have a serious personal injury case, you need to contact an attorney who understands all of the implications, how the insurance companies operate, and what you’ll need to do next to protect you and your family.
Long distance driving? Here are some tips for those long winter trips from AAA.com:
- Clean off your car completely, including windows, mirrors, lights.
- Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
- Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
- Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
- If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s what I tell my clients and our Team here at Stanley Lawevery day. Be prepared, do the homework, think ahead. Do all you can to avoid putting yourself in a bad situation. Bad things happen to good people. When you’re out there on Upstate NY roads this winter, and all year long, be safe. Being your own advocate, as in every scenario we see, is still the best first step.
Joe Stanley of Stanley Law and his entire team have decades of experience in serious personal injury cases including automobile accidents and have been working on behalf of clients across New York and Pennsylvania to help them get what they deserve. A serious personal injury is not a situation where you want to go it alone on. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a car or truck accident, please call us at 1-800-608-3333 or email us through our website where you can also describe your potential case. Your consultation is FREE.