Chicago’s winters are among some of the harshest in the nation. Driving in the snow, sleet and slush can be intimidating and dangerous. According to the Federal Highway Administration, inclement weather can have a dramatic impact on roadway safety. Potential dangers include decreased visibility, lane obstruction, decreased pavement friction, and infrastructure damage. Accidents often occur because of many drivers’ inexperience operating a vehicle in such conditions. To stay safe in winter weather conditions and ensure that car accidents stay to a minimum, motorists can follow a few helpful tips.
Know when to brake
The most important thing for motorists to know for safe winter driving is when and how to correctly operate the brake system. Instead of stomping on the brakes, which can often lead to a complete loss of traction and hydroplaning, drivers should pulse the brakes as needed. If the car begins to float on an icy patch, motorists should steer into the spin using the gas pedal, not the brake, and then ease up slowly when the car regains control. Drivers should also be aware of what type of braking system their car employs. Anti-lock brakes require longer distances in which to fully stop the car because these brakes pulse on their own to keep drivers from locking up the wheels.
Tell a friend
When a motorist must travel through wintery conditions, it is always best for them to tell a friend or family member where they are going, when they plan on returning and the route they plan on taking to and from their destination. If a collision occurs, motorists will be found and able to receive treatment much more quickly if someone knows they are missing and in need of assistance.
Being prepared is a great motto to have in life, and never more so than in driving in potentially deadly weather conditions. Smart motorists will keep the following essentials in their vehicles to keep them safe and to prevent any problems from derailing their plans:
- Extra antifreeze
- Ice-melting windshield wash and extra-long ice scraper
- Portable jump generator with ac/dc transformer and a spotlight
- Blankets and extra warm clothing
- Matches and candles
- Emergency medical kit
Experienced Chicago drivers never know when they will be involved in an accident, and these supplies can help individuals stay as warm and safe as possible while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.
Driving in icy, snowy weather is dangerous enough when drivers are completely aware of their surroundings and focused on the task. When they fail to remove distractions like cell phones, picking out music and trying to put hot drinks in an over-stuffed drink holder, the effects could be disastrous before they even know what happened. Drivers should always ask themselves how their actions are likely to affect their car when driving in winter conditions. Failing to do so could result in serious injury and loss of life.