There are nearly 6 million motor vehicle crashes each year in the United States, according to the US Department of Transportation. 22% of these are directly related to adverse weather conditions, and 24% of these weather-related incidents occur in snow or icy conditions.
Winter conditions in the northeastern US can be particularly severe. Some simple preventative and protective measures can dramatically increase the safety of your vehicle, enhance the winter driving experience for you and your passengers and improve the chances of you getting to your destination safely.
How to prepare your car for winter driving
While it’s important to maintain your vehicle properly year-round, it’s critical to ensure that you’re fully prepared during the winter months.
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Make sure you have appropriate winter tires
Many new cars today come equipped with all-season tires, which may be sufficient for certain parts of the country. In the northeast, however, the advantages of having snow tires in the winter can far outweigh the cost. Consider snow tires to be an investment in you and your family’s safety.
Additionally, while all new vehicles have anti-lock brakes now, it’s important to remember that, while they may prevent your brakes from locking up during emergency or severe braking situations, they are not designed to improve traction during wet, snowy or icy conditions. Snow tires are specially manufactured through a combination of component materials and tread design to provide you with increased traction and control when there’s snow, slush and ice on the road, or when temperatures fall significantly.
Make sure to check your car’s essential equipment. You should check the following items regularly, but at least as often as once per season. It may be helpful to make these steps an essential part of your regular oil change.
- Tire pressures and treads
- Windshield wipers and fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Transmission fluid
Keep the following items in your car. These won’t take up a lot of space in your glove box or trunk, and you’ll be very glad to have them if you need them.
- Ice scraper/brush
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight (Make sure to have fresh batteries)
- Road flares or other warning lights
- Sand or other abrasive material (kitty litter works well) that can help with traction if you’re stuck.
- Drinking water and emergency food. Keep the water inside the passenger area of the car, and not the trunk, in order to keep it from freezing. Granola bars are a simple food solution that won’t take up much space.
For longer trips, have a map or printed directions with you in the car.
Yes, just about everyone has a cell phone with a map application. A simple printed page with directions, however, can give you peace of mind if you’re in unfamiliar territory and will be very helpful in the event your phone or map application isn’t working.
Contact A Long Island Car Accident Attorney
Some simple steps in preparation can make winter driving a much safer experience. If you have any questions on the contents of this page, or if you have been injured in an accident, please call the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney at (516) 358-6900.