The daily commute is a reality for many of us who must drive to-and-from the office. Whether it is a short trip of several minutes or a lengthy commute of many miles, getting there and back safely is an important part of our day. The winter months can be exceptionally challenging.
Losing control of a car is undoubtedly one of the most frightening experiences behind the wheel. Unfortunately, it is a potential side effect when the temperatures turn cold and the roads get slick.
Watch out on winter roads
One of the most dangerous winter driving hazards is skidding, which, at high speeds, could result in a nasty crash. To prevent an unnecessary skid, slip or accident, consider the following accident prevention techniques:
- Slow down ahead of turns and curves, allowing you to prepare for potential icy spots.
- When approaching a curve, apply power slightly to the gas and steer steadily. Do not change direction abruptly and refrain from sudden braking.
- Plan ahead for lane changes.
- Check your rearview mirror and blind spot, and then use your signal to alert other motorists.
- When changing lanes, move over in a long, gradual line with minimal steering changes.
- Watch for ice patches, piles of wet leaves and shady areas which can be skidding hazards.
- Anticipate stops by slowing gradually, well ahead of intersections. These areas are generally more slick than other parts of the road because of starting and stopping traffic.
- Drive at reduced speeds.
- Slow your speed and increase the following distance to the vehicle in front of you. This will allow for a larger buffer in case you lose control.
- Avoid overpowering in deep snow.
- Use light foot on the accelerator (rather than slamming on the gas to move forward).
If your car starts to skid, do not panic. Steer in the direction that the vehicle is sliding until you feel the wheels regain traction. Then slowly straighten your wheels and keep rolling. If you need to brake before your tires regain traction, apply the brake carefully and don’t lock your brakes.
Cell phones make driving more dangerous
As you know, using cell phones while driving is a source of distraction, and even more so during the winter months. The National Safety Council estimates 28 percent of car crashes (or about 1.6 million per year) involve cellphone use at the time of the crash. Drivers who use cellphones are four times as likely to be involved in a car crash. Talking and texting on the phone when driving is dangerous and is compounded during winter. Don’t take the chance.
Be safe on the road, whether driving for work or pleasure.
Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager