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Texas Winter Driving

Our neck of the woods may not be known for blizzards and ten-foot snow drifts, but we still get our share of winter weather. If anything, driving conditions this time of year tend to be unpredictable. In fact, that unpredictability is one of the factors that can lead to accidents when the roads get slick. In other parts of the country winter driving becomes second nature. But here, winter weather can throw us for a loop. Just a few inches of snow or a thin coat of ice on side roads puts plenty of drivers in the ditch.

As the holidays get close, more of us hit the roads, and that means there is more reason than ever to brush up on the basics of safe winter driving. The good news? Safe driving is not rocket science. Instead, it is a matter of preparation and common sense.

Prepare for Bad Roads

This is where the notion of common sense kicks in. Before you head out, check local weather reports and driving conditions. Know what to expect and prepare for it.

Here are a few tips before you hit the road:

  • Make sure your vehicle is in the best condition. Check tire pressure, oil and fluid levels. Make sure the battery is new at the beginning of the winter season.
  • Prepare a roadside emergency kit in the event you break down complete with warm blankets, solar flares, road mat, and more. Consult the Texas Department of Transportation Winter Safety Guide for more suggestions.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas in case you break down. Enough gas in the tank means heat while you wait for a tow truck.
  • Leave early and give yourself plenty of time. Winter driving conditions are no time to be in a hurry.
  • More than ever, leave your cell phone alone while you drive. Distracted driving is always bad, but bad road conditions merely exacerbate the dangers.

Stay Alert on the Road

When you do hit the road, it is important to be mentally prepared for whatever dangers you might encounter. Safe winter driving begins with knowledge.

  • Even if the roads look safe, be extra cautious when temperatures dip below freezing. Black ice is a transparent coating of ice that can exists on roads and bridges.
  • Bridges and overpasses freeze before other roads. Exercise extra caution.
  • Never crowd vehicles in front of you. Slick conditions require more room to slow down and stop.
  • Stay at least 300 feet behind snow plows and other highway equipment
  • Drive defensively. Remember to use turn signals and watch for other drivers. Aggressive drivers case accidents on ice and snow.
  • Do not use cruise control in wintry weather.
  • In case you do slide on the road, fight the urge to slam on your brakes. Ease off the gas and the brake pedal. Steer in the direction you are skidding in order to regain control.

In all driving conditions, paying close attention to the road and other drivers is the best way to stay safe. In winter driving conditions, this is even more important. Take extra precaution and slow down. Insist on seatbelts and child safety restraints. Lastly, when in doubt, stay home and stay safe.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence not practicing safe winter driving tips, contact the Law Offices of Houston M. Smith, P.C., for a free consultation.