Winter can be a hazardous time of year for drivers in New York.
While we’re certainly here to help you if you get into an accident that meets the severe injury threshold at any time of year, we prefer for people to remain as safe as possible all year round.
Thus, we offer these reminders for drivers.
Check Vehicle Systems
Right now, at the end of October, is the perfect time to get vehicular systems checked to ensure they’re in great shape before winter begins.
Use the following checklist to prepare your car.
- Check the brakes
- Check the hoses
- Check the belts
- Get your exhaust system checked
- Top off fluids
- Replace filters
- Check your car battery
- Replace windshield wipers
- Refill wiper fluid
- Check the heater and defroster
- Inspect and replace tires
Ensuring these systems are in top-notch shape can save your life if you hit a slippery patch on the road or need to evade a vehicle that’s spinning out of control.
Build Your Emergency Kit
The National Weather Service recommends carrying an emergency winter supply kit for your car because you don’t know when you’ll have to pull over for winter weather or encounter an emergency road closure.
The following items can be a big help if you’re stranded in your car.
Use this checklist to make sure you have everything you might need.
- An extra cell phone charger
- A first-aid kit
- Car jumping kit with cables and charger
- Tire chains or snow tires
- Kitty litter
- Ice scraper
- Tow rope
- Extra clothes
- Bottled water
You should also try to keep a full tank of gas in your car at all times.
Clean The Entire Car
When you’re in a hurry, it can be tempting to clear just enough snow off your car to see out your front windshield. But there are important reasons to resist the urge.
First, failing to clear all the snow and ice off of every window, including the back, can limit your own visibility in dangerous ways.
Second, as you drive, those chunks of snow and ice tend to melt, then fly off and strike the front windshield of other driver’s cars. This momentarily limits their own visibility and creates a few critical seconds where they can’t adequately respond to road conditions. This could result in an accident.
If they rear-end you because you let the snow fly, it’s possible the courts will assign you a percentage of responsibility that’s so high that the diminishing returns on your potential award would make pursuing a case make far less sense than it would were you wholly blameless.
Turn On Your Lights
When it’s snowing or sleeting, you need to keep your lights on just as you would at night or during a rainstorm.
Snow and sleet limit visibility. Lights help. It’s as simple as that.
Avoid High Beams
Don’t use snow and ice as an excuse to flip on your high beams to the point where you blind every other driver on the road. It’s not just inconsiderate. It’s dangerous.
High beams are mainly for use on rural roadways with fewer streetlights and less traffic. They also don’t help you increase visibility in poor weather conditions nearly as well as people think they do.
Leave Plenty of Car Lengths
Icy roads mean less friction and less friction means it takes longer to slow down. Leave twice as many car lengths between you and the car ahead as you normally would.
If that’s not possible—New York City bumper-to-bumper traffic is common even in winter—leave as much space as you possibly can without creating a different kind of road hazard. Avoid tailgating.
Wake up a little earlier and leave a little earlier if you have to, but winter is no time to speed. In fact, winter is the perfect time to drive much slower, even if you go 5 to 10 miles below the speed limit.
Slowing down gives you more time to respond to sudden hazards and reduces the severity of hazards should you encounter them.
Remember What to Do in the Event of an Accident
Remember the steps if you do get into an accident:
- Seek medical attention.
- Gather insurance information.
- Gather witness contact information.
- Take plenty of photos.
- Contact a New York personal injury attorney ASAP.
We hope you remain safe all winter long. However, if you get into an accident, we are here to help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.