It’s that time of the year when we are fooled into thinking spring is here. Those sometimes balmy temperatures get our hopes up. Next thing you know, it’s winter again. This in-between weather can cause a nasty mix of snow, slush, and ice. Everyone needs to be extra careful since many people are not accomplished drivers in these wintery driving conditions and tend to tailgate and go too fast.
We especially have to be careful of the big trucks on the highway. In our area alone, on the I-65 corridor that runs from Chicago down to Indianapolis, there have been too many tragic accidents involving big trucks and other vehicles. And on those more balmy days, the motorcycles start to come out causing additional dangers. Often even if it appears the pavement is dry, there can be hidden black ice.
As a reminder, let me share some safe driving tips from the folks at Consumer Reports.
By now, you should have had your vehicle service for the season and you have a winter roadside safety kit in your trunk.
Clear off snow and ice
It’s surprising how so many people drive without brushing all of the snow and ice off their vehicles. In Illinois, there are no specific laws regarding this. In Indiana, however, the Indiana Turnpike officials can order you off the road if there are accumulations of snow and ice on your car or truck. Other states have stricter regulations. Regardless of the law, flying chunks of snow and ice pose a danger to the visibility of yourself, as well as other drivers.
When starting out on slippery roads, go easy on the gas to avoid wheel spin. Some cars have traction control or a winter mode that helps. If you have an automatic transmission that allows second-gear starts, select that gear for better traction.
Go smooth and easy
Reduce your speed to lessen the likelihood of a skid. Avoid any sudden inputs to the steering, throttle, or brakes. Use lower gears when decelerating, to allow the engine to slow the car.
Give yourself some space
On a dry road, allow 2 or 3 seconds of stopping distance between your car and the one ahead. In slick conditions, increase that interval to 4 seconds or more, depending on the conditions.
Don’t pump the brakes
Unless you’re driving an older car without antilock brakes, in an emergency, use steady pressure and let your car’s antilock brakes do the work. Almost every modern car has ABS, but check your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic if you’re not sure. In some very icy conditions, even ABS may not help; you’re along for the ride until you regain traction.
All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive don’t make you invincible
All-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive systems provide extra traction while accelerating, but they can’t help much with stopping and turning. That’s the job of the winter tires you should have bought.
Theodoros & Rooth has well over a century of combined experience helping those who have been injured in serious truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle crashes. Call us first if you believe irresponsible driving has made you or a loved one a victim. Your initial consultation is always free. There are no fees until we either settle your case, or win at trial.
Spring will be coming soon enough. In the meantime, please drive safe and beware of everything around you.