Winter has definitely arrived in Peoria, and with it comes treacherous driving conditions. Driving in bad weather is always challenging, and it gets even harder when drivers forget to use good sense or are unaccustomed to driving in winter weather.
According to the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), approximately 1.2 million crashes each year involve hazardous weather. Those crashes cause an average of 5,376 deaths and 418,000 injuries. For contrast, large-scale weather disasters, like flooding, hurricanes, and extreme heat, cause an average of 379 deaths per year.
Don’t cause an accident when you’re driving this winter. These seven tips will help you get to your destination safely.
1. Maintain Your Car
The first step in safe winter driving takes place before you even get on the road. Experts recommend that you begin winterizing your car well in advance of the season, so an unexpected early snowstorm doesn’t catch you unprepared. Some things you can do to properly prepare for winter driving are:
- Put on snow tires, ensure they have enough tread, and inflate them properly
- Check fluid levels and top off your antifreeze
- Fill your wiper fluid tank, and keep extra fluid in your trunk
- Check your windshield wipers and replace them if necessary
- Replace burnt-out headlights and taillights
- Pack a survival and first aid kit in your trunk
- Keep your gas tank full
- Make sure your cell phone is charged
2. Clear the Snow
We’ve all driven behind that person who couldn’t be bothered to clear the snow off the roof of their vehicle. When chunks of snow come flying off the car in front of you, it can be terrifying—and dangerous.
Don’t be that person. Give yourself extra time to properly clear the snow off your hood, roof, and trunk of your car, not just your windows. That way, the driver behind you can focus on the road, and not the projectile snow that’s hurtling off your car.
3. Adjust Your Driving Style
When conditions are snowy, icy, or wet, it’s important to drive more cautiously than you might in the summer. Slow down, even if your car has 4-wheel drive. Leave extra room between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Press softly on the brake pedal to help keep your wheels from sliding. In lower visibility, drive with your headlights on—even during the day.
4. Don’t Pass Plows
We realize snowplows are no fun to drive behind. They’re slow, wide, and probably kicking up mud, sand, and salt behind them. However, they’re on the road for a reason—and that’s because the road conditions ahead of them are unsafe. Whatever you do, do not tailgate or pass the snowplow.
5. Slow Down for Bridges
Bridges and overpasses ice over more quickly than roads. This is because they are exposed to the freezing air on both sides. Use extra caution when crossing bridges in winter weather.
6. Steer into the Slide
So, you hit some black ice while coming around a turn and felt your back wheels start to slip out. This is called oversteer. To avoid spinning out and causing an accident, it’s important to stay calm and steer into the slide. This means that if your rear tires are sliding to the left, you should turn your wheel to the left to compensate.
7. Minimize Distractions
With ice on the roads and flurries in the air, it should go without saying that the last thing a winter driver needs is more distractions. However, that’s exactly what you do when you answer your phone while you’re behind the wheel. Distracted driving is a primary cause of rear-end collisions. Between inattention and slippery roads that make cars take longer to come to a stop, you have a recipe for a collision.
If you witness a distracted or reckless driver, note the make, model, and color of the car, as well as the license plate number. If you have a passenger, have them call the Illinois State Police by dialing *999. If you are driving alone, pull over before making the call.
Winter Car Accident Lawyers in Peoria
A driver who slides through an icy intersection into oncoming traffic might believe the conditions are to blame. However, the court is unlikely to see it that way. It is each driver’s responsibility to drive safely for the conditions. By taking the proper preventative measures, you can help prevent winter car accidents.
If you have been in a car accident, call the law offices of Schierer & Ritchie today. Our Peoria personal injury attorneys have decades of experience and a track record of success bringing justice to the victims of car accidents. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.