With the winter weather upon us in Wisconsin, it seems to be as good a time as ever to remind drivers of some basic winter driving tips they can take advantage of while navigating the wintery roadways. Much in the same way you pay attention to slips and falls in the winter, driving tips are also important during this time. It helps to prepare yourself for driving in the winter months so that you are equipped to handle any situations that may arise. First and foremost, slow down. Our vehicles do not handle nearly as well in snow and icy conditions as they do on a dry road surface. Remember that speed limits are the maximum speed that a car should be driven in ideal conditions. Winter weather creates less than ideal road conditions, and speed should be reduced accordingly to maintain control of the vehicle.
Here are some of the best winter driving tips that you can use as a Wisconsin motorist:
1. Give yourself extra time and distance to stop when driving
In the winter months, driving becomes much more hazardous. This is because of the drastic change in weather conditions, and also because most tires do not have adequate tread to grip the road effectively in winter conditions. Maintaining a safe following distance means something completely different in winter than it does during the rest of the year. Motorists must be cognizant of the fact that slippery conditions exist more often in the winter due to snow and ice.
It is because of these conditions that they need to create space between themselves and the vehicle driving in front of them, particularly in case the vehicle slows or stops suddenly. In the event that your vehicle begins to slide, do not slam on the brakes. Instead, pump your brakes to give your tires a chance to regain traction. If your vehicle begins to fishtail, it is recommended that you turn your wheel in the direction that the car is sliding and do not press the brake. This should allow the vehicle to correct itself without spinning out. This is an important winter driving tip to remember, and it is one that could very well prevent you from crashing and sustaining severe injuries.
2. Increase visibility by keeping your windshield clear
Precipitation can drastically reduce visibility when you are on the road. The most common precipitation culprits are rain and snow. Snowfall makes it challenging to see further out than a few meters when you are driving. Visibility may also be reduced based upon our own vehicles and whether or not they have been adequately cleared of snow and ice. This type of visibility, unlike weather-related visibility, is something we, as drivers, have complete control over. It is not safe to drive a vehicle that has snow or ice covering any parts of the windows or headlights. Always keep a snow brush and ice scraper in your vehicle during the winter months.
Oftentimes this visibility issue occurs when a vehicle has been parked outside during a snowfall or ice freezes to a vehicle’s windows overnight. Many people will clear a small section of the windshield, just large enough for themselves to see through, in an effort to save time or avoid standing in the cold temperatures to fully clear their vehicle. They will then proceed to drive with their defrost blaring hoping that the rest will melt or otherwise disappear quickly as they drive. This is obviously not safe.
3. Completely clear your car windows of snow and ice
In Wisconsin, drivers can be ticketed for operating a vehicle without all the windows cleared of snow and ice. While not included in the law regarding snow on windows, officers also want to see hoods and roofs of vehicles void of snow accumulations prior to driving. Once the vehicle begins to move, a safety hazard is created as that snow can either fly up into the air or slide down from the roof obstructing the view of not only that particular driver but potentially drivers in the vehicles behind them as well.
All drivers should make sure to clear their entire vehicle before driving. Not only does this help you avoid an unnecessary fine, but it also helps improve winter road safety for other motorists. There is a $175 fine for driving with snow and ice on the windows of a vehicle. The driver will likely also be forced to clear the entire car before being allowed back on the roadway. Avoid the hassle, and get in the habit of clearing your vehicle completely of snow and ice accumulations before hitting the road.
4. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving conditions
A large part of preparing a vehicle to safely traverse Wisconsin roadways in winter is equipping them with winter tires. Preparation is a big element of winter driving tips. Winter tires are designed to grip the roadways more effectively in colder temperatures, thus making winter driving much easier and safer. While it may sound absurd, insurance companies have taken the position that drivers can be liable for crashes caused by “inadequate tires.” Take responsibility and make sure your vehicle is appropriately prepared for winter conditions so that you do not cause an accident and injure yourself and others. If someone else does not adequately prepare their vehicle and this results in your injury, call our offices today to discuss your options for a car accident lawyer in Wisconsin.
5. Keep your vehicle stocked with emergency items and safety kits
It is important in winter that drivers keep their vehicles stocked with items to help in the event that the car breaks down or gets stuck in the snow. This is one of the best winter safety tips that anyone can share with you. A shovel and rock salt should be kept in the trunk at all times. If the vehicle slides off of the road and into a ditch, these items can help the driver get the vehicle out by shoveling around the tires and pouring salt down to give the tires some traction. A blanket and an extra set of winter hats and gloves should also be placed in the vehicle to keep the occupants warm in case of a breakdown.
Emergency flares or reflectors should be a priority as well because they can be put out to warn passing vehicles of a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. A rope or chain comes in handy if the vehicle needs to be towed out of a ditch. Jumper cables, which should be kept in the vehicle year-round, are especially important in winter in the event of a dead battery. A flashlight is also a necessity as it gets darker much earlier in winter, so the chances of being on the side of the road in the dark are much greater than at other times during the year.
It is not uncommon for the number of car crashes to increase during the winter months, especially around the first few snowfalls as drivers are getting used to driving in slippery conditions again. Therefore, it is especially important for Wisconsin drivers to keep these winter driving tips in mind as they venture out into the snowy conditions. If you or someone you know has been injured in a weather-related crash due to the negligence of another driver, the team at Groth Law Firm may be able to help them recover from their injuries and other expenses associated with the crash. Call a Milwaukee car accident lawyer today at (414) 375-2030.