As winter sets in, road conditions in New York become more dangerous, and the risk of car accidents increases. 24% of winter weather car accidents nationwide are due to icy, snowy, or slushy conditions resulting in 116,800 injuries and 1,300 deaths. All drivers must prepare their vehicles for this time of year and drive carefully in hazardous conditions.
If you have been in an accident due to winter road conditions, the lawyers at Catalano Law can help you get a fair settlement for your injuries. Our experienced team can help you understand your legal options and get the compensation you deserve.
Before you take to the roads in snowy, icy, or slushy conditions, it is vital to winterize your vehicle. Winterizing every part of your car can help ensure your car functions safely in various road conditions and gives you more visibility and control over your car.
In winter, visibility is critical. Removing all ice or snow from all your windows and mirrors is essential. You need to see other cars and obstacles around you so you can drive safely. To improve winter visibility:
- Switch your wipers to silicone winter wipers, which are heavier, have a stronger grip on your windshield, and can remove more snow, slush, and ice than standard wipers.
- Check your defrosters are working properly.
- Switch to deicing winter windshield washer fluid.
- Check that all your lights, including brake lights and turn signals, are working correctly, and clean snow, ice, or slush from all lights before driving.
Check the conditions of your tires before you drive on snow and ice. Your vehicle’s grip on the road surface is one of the most critical factors in safe winter driving. If your tires are not made for winter or have insufficient tread, they will be unable to give you the grip you need.
Switching to winter tires or installing 4-season tires is the best way to have a proper tire grip for this time of year. Even if you have season-appropriate tires, ensure they have no less than 4/32 of an inch tread to create proper tension for driving on snow and ice.
Preparing your engine for winter means testing your battery and replacing the coolant to prevent freezing in low temperatures. Open up the hood and make sure your vehicle’s engine is prepared for lower temperatures by:
- Replacing your coolant with a specialized antifreeze coolant or mix 60% antifreeze and 40% water to prevent freezing.
- Ensuring your engine has a synthetic oil rated for low temperatures.
- Lower temperatures can cause automotive batteries to hold less charge, so have your battery professionally tested before driving.
Beyond ensuring your vehicle can safely operate on winter roads, you must also adapt your driving to icy, slushy, or snowy conditions. The following actions can help you retain more control over your vehicle while keeping you and other drivers safe.
- Avoid using cruise control.
- Keep several car lengths between your vehicle and those in front of you and allow for double stopping distance.
- Break and accelerate in a gentle, deliberate, and gradual manner; never slam on the brakes.
- Reduce speeds to the posted road minimum or lower in hazardous conditions
- Use your anti-lock brakes correctly by applying firm, constant pressure when you skid. Do not pump anti-lock brakes because it can limit their effectiveness.
- Turn in the direction of a spin if your car begins to skid.
One of the most important precautions you must take when driving in the winter is assessing road conditions. Snowy, icy, and slushy conditions can rapidly change as temperatures rise and fall throughout the day, and all can be affected by direct sunlight or freezing winds.
Check the forecast before you start driving, and while on the road, stay aware of the following road conditions:
- Ice often forms in elevated or shady locations, so take extra precautions when driving over these areas, such as on overpasses and under bridges.
- Exercise caution when driving over spotty or slushy snow, as traction can change over different surfaces.
- Even if the conditions seem good and the roads are clear, always be prepared for patches of black ice when the temperature is below freezing.
If you are unsure how your car will handle and respond in various conditions, find a stretch of road where there are no other motorists, drive up to the speed limit and gently apply your brakes for 1 or 2 seconds while driving in a straight line.
If your car brakes normally, the road is not slick; however, if you feel the pedal vibrate or an indicator light appears on your dash, your anti-lock brakes, traction control, or stability control systems are engaging, which indicates slick and potentially dangerous driving conditions.
Winter roads can present a range of unexpected hazards that could be dangerous. You must have emergency supplies in case you are stranded, in an accident, or if the conditions make the roads impassable. Include the following in an emergency supply kit:
- An ice scraper
- A tow rope
- Battery jumper cables
- A snow shovel
- Salt, sand, or ice melt
- Emergency blankets and cold weather gear
- Supply of emergency food and water
If you have been the victim of another driver’s negligence in unsafe driving in winter conditions, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Catalano Law. Our attorneys have 50 years of combined experience and have handled more than 12,000 cases with a 95% success rate.
Our attorneys will fight for compensation for your injuries so you can recover and get back to normal after an accident. Contact us today for a free consultation to get started on your case.