Winter driving poses a
number of unique challenges and safety issues, some
of which will be addressed here.
First of all, make
sure that your vehicle is up to the challenges of
winter driving. Good tires are essential. Check
your windshield wipers and make sure you have enough
washer fluid (low temperature mix). Clear ice and
snow from your windows before driving off: it is
unsafe and illegal to drive while looking through a
peephole. Clear as much snow and ice from your
vehicle as possible. Ice and snow flying off can be
dangerous and affect visibility for other drivers.
Check to see that the coolant mixture is correct,
overheating is possible despite freezing
temperatures. Dress appropriately for the weather.
If you break down or get stranded, you may have to
wait some time for assistance. The most important
thing when driving in icy or snowy conditions is to
SLOW DOWN! Taking a few extra minutes of travel
time could keep you out of an accident. Remember
that although front wheel drive and four wheel drive
vehicles perform better on ice and snow, they will
not allow you to defy the laws of physics.
If you do begin to
skid, release the accelerator, and turn into the
skid. (Turn in the direction you want to go.) If
you over-correct and begin to skid the other way,
turn gently into the skid again. Try to make your
movements smoothly. If you have ABS (anti-lock)
brakes keep firm pressure on the brakes. If not,
pump the brakes. DONíT jam on the brakes in a skid,
or you will completely lose control. Remember that
bridges, ramps, and overpasses will freeze up sooner
than the roadway.
Most people believe
that police write traffic tickets to make money for
their respective jurisdictions. However, the
primary reason for the enforcement of traffic laws
is to increase the safety of motorists and
pedestrians. According to the NHTSA, speeding was a
factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes, and that
alcohol was involved in 39 percent of the fatal
crashes. The majority of all crashes in urban areas
occur at intersections, and most of these happen as
a result of a driver disregarding a red light or
stop sign, or turning in front of an oncoming
vehicle without yielding. The best advice would be
to practice true defensive driving Ė be fully aware
of your surroundings, and use caution, even when you
have the right of way.
Goto next month's traffic
safety column . . .