Every winter, New Yorkers become acutely aware of how easy it can be to get involved in a weather-related accident.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reports that at least 24% of weather-related vehicular accidents every year are a result of the icy and snowy conditions. These conditions cause over 100,000 reported injuries and over 1,000 deaths per year. Therefore, it’s critical that you are prepared for winter weather driving.
Tips for staying safe while driving in the winter
- Drive slowly. The roads in the winter are unpredictable. Even if the streets have been plowed, ice and slush can remain and make it difficult to drive. Take your time when you’re driving and slow down. If you need to be somewhere at a scheduled time, give yourself plenty of time so you can arrive when you want without sacrificing your safety.
- Increase your following distance. There’s a general rule of thumb to driving to allow a two to three-second distance between yourself and the car in front of you. During the winter, it’s encouraged to increase that distance to five to six seconds, allowing yourself enough time to accelerate and slow down on slippery roads.
- Prepare your vehicle. There are various ways you can prepare your car before you hit the road. Replace worn-out tires to help with grip while on the ice and keep items such as blankets and a flashlight in your car for emergencies. Of course, an ice scraper is a necessary tool to have in your car during the winter to provide you with clear visibility.
- Plan your trip ahead of time. Check weather conditions before you head out; if your schedule is more flexible, wait until the roads are cleared. You might let a friend or relative know when you’re leaving so that someone can make sure you arrive safely. If you have appointments scheduled in the evening or during storms, consider rescheduling to another day or time when visibility is better. In the case of extreme weather, staying at home is typically the best option.
It’s not always possible to avoid driving in the winter. Icy and snowy roads are part of the winter landscape and a challenge we face every year. However, taking these precautions into consideration can help you – and others – stay safe on the roads this winter.