The forecast calls for freezing temperatures here in the next few days. It’s time to pull out the warm clothes and prepare for driving on possibly treacherous roads, if not this week in the next month or two.
Every year 6,253 people tragically die and more than 480,000 are injured in weather-related accidents. Of course, the weather is not always the reason for the crash — it’s often the way people drive in it.
Driving on wet, icy roads with poor visibility is very different than in our usually good North Texas weather conditions. Yet many drivers make no changes to their typical driving patterns, even on interstates. Add that to the fact that Texans usually have little experience driving in winter conditions and you can expect a lot of crashes.
Reckless and inexperienced drivers may not adjust their speed, braking, steering and vehicular distance to the slick roads. And they don’t know how to react when they come upon an accident or their wheels start to slide and crash into other vehicles. No one can drive safely on poor roads.
Beware of Black Ice
If you feel like you are gliding along the highway, you probably are . . . on a patch of black ice. You can’t see this invisible winter hazard until you hit it, so it’s impossible to avoid.
Preparation is the key. If you are paying close attention to the road and driving at a safe speed for the conditions, you should be able to drive over the ice without incident. However, you can find yourself sliding out of control if you do not anticipate the ice or know what to do.
Driving Safely in Bad Conditions
The best way to avoid icy roadways is to not drive in these conditions. Of course, that may not be possible. But limit driving as much as possible when road conditions are the worst, usually early in the morning hours or late at night. Be especially wary of bridges, overpasses, underpasses, and hills and plan an alternative route..
If you must drive and the roads are poor, take these precautions:
- Winterize your vehicle today. Check your battery, wipers, lights, fluids, tires, and other safety features and equipment.
- Check your insurance coverage. Make sure you also have collision, towing, rental, and Personal Injury Protection benefits available.
- Bring an emergency kit including a scraper for ice. Charge your cell phone.
- Slow down. The posted speed limit might be too fast to drive in wet, icy conditions.
- Avoid erratic braking. Your wheels don’t have traction on wet roads. Sudden braking and acceleration can cause your tires to skid dangerously out of control.
- Leave extra space. Leave more space between you and the car in front because you need more room to brake if the traffic slows or stops.
- Do not use cruise control. You need to be in control of your vehicle at all times.
- Be prepared. Check road conditions before you leave on local news or the Texas Department of Transportation road condition site. Leave earlier than usual to accommodate bad weather, road closures and accidents.
- Buckle up. You’re just running up the road? Doesn’t matter. Fasten your seat belt every time you get in your car.
- Steer into a skid. If your car starts to skid, don’t jerk your steering wheel the other way. This is a common reaction that can send your car out of control.
Stay safe out there this week.