Driving during the winter months is a bit different than driving when weather is warm, streets are dry, and visibility is limitless. Taking time to make sure your vehicle is prepared for your winter trip can help ensure you arrive at your destination safely – and prepare you for any unforeseen circumstances along the way.
As always, your preparation and the steps you take to drive safely can help you avoid an accident, but you cannot always prevent injury following an accident caused by someone else. If you sustain an injury while driving this winter, call our St. Louis office at 314-333-3333 or our Illinois office at 618-888-8888 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help.
Five Tips for Safe Winter Travels
Before you leave your house, be sure to:
- Check the tires – The wet, icy and snowy conditions of winter can reduce tire traction, increasing the risk of skids. Make sure your tires have at least 1/8-inch of tread on them and consider replacing tires with snow tires, which are equipped with special compounds to enhance traction on slick roadways.
- Check the battery – Cold weather can affect a batteries cranking power, potentially cutting it down by as much as half when temperatures plummet to zero degrees. Check your battery’s fluid level and charge state; if you don’t know how to do this, take your vehicle to a service station. If your battery is not maintaining a charge, replacing it now – before the severe cold of winter sets in – will be essential.
- Replenish the fluids – Namely, check your vehicle’s wiper fluid and oil levels and replenish these as needed. You may want to actually do an oil change, replacing your oil with one that has a “W” in its viscosity index (indicating it is specially formulated for winter use).
- Adjust your driving habits – Give your vehicle some time to warm up, start adjusting your speeds down a bit and start checking the weather/your route before leaving. Getting in these habits now will make them easy to follow in a few weeks when winter officially arrives.
- Prepare a winter safety kit – Despite all of your winter preparations for your vehicle, you may still end up on the side of the road with a broken down vehicle or following a crash. If this happens, having a winter safety kit in your car (which includes things like water, blankets, energy bars, an extra cell phone, etc.) can help you remain warm and safe while you wait for help – especially if you are stranded in the middle of a storm.
Your Winter Safety Kit
MoDOT suggests you keep in your car:
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- A first-aid kit
- Necessary medications
- Blankets and/or sleeping bags
- Extra mittens or gloves, socks, a warm cap and rain gear
- A small sack of sand to use for traction under your wheels
- A small shovel
- Booster cables
- Small tools – pliers, wrench, screwdriver
- A brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
- Nonperishable foods
- Bottled water
Keeping Yourself Safe
Maintaining your vehicle, slowing down, and driving in a manner appropriate for weather conditions is important for keeping yourself safe. As we approach the holidays, remember to also avoid all forms of distraction and always drive sober. These steps, too, can help prevent you from causing an accident that injures or kills yourself and others.
If you are involved in an accident that you did not cause and you would like to speak with an experienced attorney about your options, please call Brown & Brown at 314-333-3333 or 618-888-8888 to schedule a free consultation right away.