Tips for Safe Winter Driving
December 31st, 2016 | Donald C. Ligorio
Winter weather is upon us, and one of things we can count on in Northeastern Pennsylvania are some frightful road conditions. Every year, 116,800 people are injured and more than 1,300 are killed on snowy, slushy or icy roads. Twenty-four percent of weather-related crashes occur on snow, slush or ice, and 15 percent happen during snow or sleet storms. Here are some basic precautions that can help you avoid injury or property damage due to winter road conditions.
Winterizing your vehicle is critical. Be sure to check your tires, tire pressure, battery, belts, hoses, radiator, oil, transmission fluid, lights, brakes, exhaust system, defroster, wipers and ignition system. Snow, ice, and slush reduce friction on the roadway and make it more difficult to stop and control your vehicle. Tires are especially important because they help maintain traction by remaining in contact with the roadway in wet and slippery conditions. Pennsylvania law requires tire treads to be at least 2/32” in depth. Cold weather also affects tire pressure. Each time the outside temperature drops 10 degrees, the air pressure in your tires will go down one or two pounds per square inch (PSI). Underinflated tires make steering more difficult in slippery conditions.
It’s also important to pay close attention to road conditions while driving. Water is likely to freeze more quickly in shady areas or on bridges. So-called “black ice” commonly forms in these areas. Pennsylvania law requires drivers to adjust their speed to driving conditions affected by weather and to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles
Visibility is also a major factor in winter weather-related accidents. Pennsylvania law requires all drivers to fully clean all windows and mirrors prior to operating a vehicle. Take the extra time to make sure you have good visibility and that your windshield wipers are in good condition and working properly. Snow and ice falling from the tops of vehicles can also cause accidents. Drivers may be subject to significant fines for failing to clear snow and ice from the tops of their vehicles if it falls into the roadway and distracts other drivers
Finally, be prepared for accidents and car trouble. Keep blankets, extra warm clothes, a first aid kit and flares in your car. If you are going on a longer trip, take water and food in the event that you get stranded on the road due to a storm or accident.
With the proper preparation, care and precaution, you and your family can stay safe on the roads this winter.