Driving in the winter season is full of challenges and dangers. That is why avoiding getting behind the wheel is recommended once bad weather strikes. However, for many people, this is not an option. With work, school, and other pressing commitments and needs, driving is mostly unavoidable. However, winter accidents are quite common. Even though auto insurance might cover vehicle damage costs, lives are at stake when you drive irresponsibly, including your own life. Regardless of how accustomed you may be to driving in bad weather, please go through the list below to ensure your safety and that of others. It lays out the most common driving mistakes you must avoid making during winter weather.
1. Overestimating your Tires
Many drivers fail to realize that regular tires are not designed for handling snow and ice. Hence, the maneuvers you can do on a dry road are not possible for your average tires to tackle during the winter months. Something as small as taking a minor sharp turn in winter can cause your vehicle to topple or collide with another vehicle. Therefore, to ensure you don’t exhaust your tires on snowy winter roads, slow your vehicle down as much as possible before attempting turns.
Alternatively, if you frequently drive during the winter season, you should consider purchasing special tires needed for the snow and ice-filled roads. However, careless or casual driving in the winter, even with customized tires, can lead to accidents that can destroy your vehicle. Therefore, it would be best to invest in auto insurance to minimize costs in case of an accident.
2. Failure to Adjust the Speed
The most common mistake many drivers make is trying to tackle a road at the same speed in the winter as they do in the dry summer months. Although this may be below the legal speed limit, the state of the road may cause your normal pace to become dangerous. This is especially important when driving through a snow-packed road. With the snow and ice preventing the normal friction between the vehicle and the road, your car can easily skid off the path and end up tumbling or crashing.
To ensure you don’t end up having a speed-related accident, make it a rule to drive at a maximum of a quarter of your normal speed. The extra time it will take you may seem like a drag, but for your safety, it’s worth it.
3. Insufficient Vehicle Spacing
Legally, vehicle spacing is mandatory at all times. However, we often find ourselves cutting corners when following this rule. While it may have ‘proven’ to be harmless for you during the summer seasons, continuing this way in the winter can be a fatal move. In the winter, the chance of fatal accidents increases by over 30%. Without the mandated distance between vehicles, it becomes impossible for you to stop in time if the car in front of you suddenly loses control or hits the brakes. This leads to a multi-vehicle collision.
In the winter, even the smallest collisions can cause cars to spin out of control. To ensure you avoid being caught in a multi-vehicle collision in snowy weather, maintain the legally mandated distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
4. Shortcuts & Back Roads
One of the worst decisions you can make while driving in the winter is taking shortcuts and back roads. Clearing roads and paths after a snowfall is a tenuous job that takes time. Therefore, the authorities focus on clearing the main roads before all else to restore access to all routes. Smaller back roads are often not prioritized and are tended to after the main routes are cleared. If you need to go somewhere after a snowstorm, the thought of opting for a shortcut may cross your mind. However, you must block that thought out instantly.
The back roads are not only dangerous after a snowfall but will also take much longer than the regular route due to the uncleared snow. That is, if you don’t end up getting stuck in the middle of the piled-up snow with no way out. To avoid a potential death trap, stick to the main roads and routes after ensuring that the same has been cleared. Your local news station will likely give updates regarding the routes, so check out the broadcast before leaving the house.
5. Driving will all your Layers On
While it may seem like the smart thing to do, driving with your entire winter outfit on is extremely dangerous. This is because your mobility is compromised when you are bundled up, preventing you from acting quickly. Additionally, your physical senses are also affected as you are unable to feel where your arm or foot is due to the heavy clothing and footwear. In fact, in some countries, such as the UK, it is now a punishable offense to drive with snow boots!
Due to the extremely cold weather, you need to cover yourself up in layers before leaving the house. However, once you get to your car, you must remove all unnecessary clothing items, including bulky snow boots. A pro tip is to keep a pair of normal shoes in your car so you can change once inside. This way, you can be sure to be at your peak as a driver while navigating through the treacherous winter roads.
Driving is arguably one of the most dangerous forms of transport during bad weather. This can be backed up by the numerous accidents that occur on roads worldwide every day. However, driving and traveling by car is no longer a luxury due to the ease and convenience of private vehicles and our busy lives. However, as a driver, you are responsible for your safety and the safety of others on the road.
During the tough winter months, the road hazards increase, and so does the driver’s responsibility. By taking the necessary precautions listed above, you can avoid making mistakes that may threaten your safety and that of others on the road. Remember, slow and steady wins the race (and stay