Midwesterners are the first ones to admit that there are two seasons: winter and construction, and sometimes those two overlap resulting in a comedy of errors often ending in disaster. Countless professional agencies ranging from AAA to state police offer winter driving tips to avoid unexpected disaster resulting in injuries, fatalities, or at least calls to your Ann Arbor car accident attorney. So as preventative measures, here are some of the best safety reminders to help you and all your loved ones make it home safely throughout Michigan’s brutal winter season.
Check and Inspect
Make sure your vehicle is in top working condition to avoid any major winter time breakdowns. Get a tune up before the Old Man Winter really starts blowing. Worn hoses, leaks, and any major issues should be addressed. Check your battery voltage and make sure the starter and alternator are strong enough to handle the frigid temperatures. Check your cooling system and top off all fluids, especially a high-quality antifreeze. Be sure to inspect your wiper blades and fill washer solution. Get new winter blades if the current ones are worn.
Replace Aging Tires
Aging tires aren’t always visually noticeable, but they can definitely be felt on the road. Add ice and packed snow to the mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster. The less tread on each tire, the less control you’ll have of your vehicle. If you’re just not sure about whether or not you need replacements and you don’t want to trust an expensive mechanic to give you an “honest” opinion, check the tire ID number on each tire’s sidewall.
The number begins with the letters “DOT”, and the last four numbers identify the date the tire was manufactured. Your car’s owner’s manual should give suggestions on when to replace your tires, but many suggest every six years regardless of how much the vehicle is in use. If you’re in the budget for snow tires, check the current ratings http://www.safercar.gov/ before investing your time and money.
Clear the Car of Snow and Ice
Snow and ice can accumulate within minutes, and it’s a serious danger on the road to not only you but to other drivers. Keep a good winter brush on hand and use it religiously. Peephole driving is never safe.
Maintain Proper Acceleration and Speed Control
Acceleration during the winter differs from other seasons when friction aids in maneuverability. If you’re at a standstill or otherwise stuck in snow or ice, accelerate slowly. This allows the tire tread to engage and grab onto the surface without spinning out of control. Loss of control is especially common in winter, so applying that knowledge to your driving and braking speed will also help avoid spinouts and accidents. At this point, the longstanding “two-to-three times car-length distance” rule sets in. Decrease speed and increase car length all season long to make it home safely.
Don’t Make Your Car Multitask
It’s commonplace to accelerate and turn or apply the brakes while turning in decent weather. But demanding that of your car in the winter more often than not ends in a spinout. Applying sudden actions while cornering is also a guarantee that you’ll land in a ditch or become part of someone else’s trunk.
Correct Properly During a Slide
It’s instinctual for many drivers to panic and turn the steering wheel sharply in the opposite direction of a slide, but that’s the worse thing you can do. If you feel your car enter a slide, try to stay calm. Slowly let up on the accelerator and steer into the slide. It may bend the laws of physics, but this technique really does help straighten out the vehicle and is responsible for saving countless lives.
Be Extra Wary and Aware of Other Motorists
If you’re aware of what’s going on around you at all times, you can avoid involvement in other traveler-based catastrophes. Leave for your destination early every time. Keep extra space between you and other vehicles. Avoid distraction of any type on the road. Signal ahead early and stay in the proper lanes. And always keep the number of a competent auto accident attorney on hand in case the worst still happens. Hopefully, it never will; but it’s far better to be safe than sorry.