Precautions To Take When Driving Through Snowy Weather This Winter

Posted on November 7, 2013

The weather is getting colder in many parts of the country, and that means that snow isn’t far behind.  Whether you live in an area where snowfall is commonplace or you plan on traveling to such climates for the upcoming holidays, it’s important to realize some of the precautions that need to be taken in order to ensure safety and protection against potential liability.  Thankfully, the Highway Department of Pierce County, Wisconsin has released some valuable tips that could be put in place this winter.

First, realize that when the temperature plummets dramatically, the road can do some pretty interesting things.  Temperature and slickness can fluctuate wildly depending on the type of surface you’re navigating on.  There’s a reason you see signs along the road that say things like “Bridges may be slick.”  Cold will set in these portions of the roadway for much longer, and ice formation is thus more likely.  Slow your speed when approaching sections of the road that pose an ice danger, including bridges, underpasses, and areas near bodies of water.

The danger posed by slickness is nothing that you want to underestimate.  If you’re traveling a long distance for the holidays or some other reason, you may be tempted to use cruise control, but this is not a great idea on roads affected by ice.  When you’re in cruise control, and your tires fail to find purchase, the cruise may overcompensate and actually gun the throttle rather than easing back on the speed.  This could lead you to spin out, crashing into other vehicles or structures along the road.

Leave cruise control off on roads you suspect could be slick, and don’t rely on four wheel drive either.  Accidents happen every year because the driver thought their four wheel drive system made them invincible.  In actuality, the tires won’t grip the road better, it’s just that the addition of two more tires boosts the chance that at least one or two of the tires will gain purchase on the road.  But if ice is everywhere, this won’t matter, and you’ll find that a spinout in an all-wheel drive vehicle is a very real occurrence.

You also want to respect the rights of snow plows and the members of road crews.  Stay an ample distance away from such vehicles so they have room to navigate and snow doesn’t get pushed onto your vehicle.  If you’re shoveling your own driveway, do crews a favor by hoisting the snow into the grass rather than the street or sidewalk.  Leaving the mess for someone else to clean up is not acceptable.

Finally, realize that the responsibility for clearing your driveway and sidewalk is likely yours, so take that seriously so you don’t expose yourself to a possible personal injury lawsuit.

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