‘Tis the season for snow…and more car accidents. It’s common in Salt Lake City and throughout Utah to have over 150 car accidents in just one day due to snowy road conditions. We want to help you avoid being one of them.
Here are some tips to help you avoid getting in a snowy pile up on Utah’s roads. Don’t end up like this guy! Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9yqXzZ16ns.
Tire traction. First, make sure you have good tread on your tires. If your tire tread is less than 4/32” in depth, you should get new tires. The quickest, easiest way to test your tire tread depth is to place a penny with Lincoln’s head downward. If any part of Lincoln’s head is covered in the tread, then you should be good. But if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread is too worn out.
Clear windshield. Keep your windshield clear of ice and snow. Carry an ice scraper in your car. Before you begin driving clear all debris off and around the windshield. Make sure there’s no snow on the roof of your car. Be sure you have sufficient windshield fluid. I once represented a 10-year-old boy from Provo, Utah that was hit by a car where the driver didn’t properly clear the ice from his windshield. My client was crossing the cross walk on his way to school, and the defendant couldn’t see well through his icy windshield. He hit and caused serious injury to my client.
Drive slowly. Drive at least 10-20 mph under the posted speed limit. It takes 50% longer to slow down on snowy roads than on dry roads. Slowing on icy roads takes even longer. If you need to make a turn, begin slowing twice as far away from your turn as you normally would to allow more time to slow down without having to press on the brake. You tires have a better chance at keeping traction when they are spinning rather than stationary due to braking. Speeding is the top contributor of fatalities on roadways.
Put the cell phone away. Driving while talking on a cell phone is like driving with a BAC of .08 grams, which is above the legal limit. Add in snow, icy roads, and traffic, and you have a perfect storm. Stay focused on the roads. Your phone call can wait.
Steer smoothly. Make sure you steer smoothly. Don’t make sudden movements with the steering wheel. This can cause you to lose traction. Look ahead so you can see what’s coming up and avoid sudden jerks on the steering wheel. If you find yourself sliding, take your foot of the brake, do not accelerate, or make a sudden jerk of the wheel. If the rear-end of your vehicle is sliding, steer into the same direction your rear is sliding. For example, if you’re rear is sliding to the left, you want to steer leftward to stabilize your vehicle.
Stay visible. Make sure you are visible to other drivers. Fog, snow, and ice dramatically decrease visibility. Clean all snow and ice off your car, especially of your bumpers and hood to keep snow from blocking your lights. Clean snow off the roof of your car to prevent snow from falling onto the road or obscuring other drivers’ visibility Make sure your headlights, rear lights, and brake lights are all functioning. This means you may need to manual turn the vehicle lights on if it’s lighter outside despite the stormy weather.
Four-wheel drive caution. Don’t assume that because you have all-wheel or four-wheel wheel drive, you are safe. Having all-wheel drive can give you a false sense of security. Four-wheel drive can help you avoid getting stuck in slower speeds, but it doesn’t help you when you hit a patch of ice while traveling at higher speeds. You need to still drive with heightened awareness and at slower speeds.
Prepare for the worst. Hopefully, you don’t find yourself spun out on the side of the road or in a ditch following an accident. But if you do, you want to be prepared. Make sure you have blankets, a flashlight, spare tire and jack, reflective triangle to place in the roadway, and a first aid kit. Don’t assume that an ambulance or first responders will be there immediately. It’s likely they are helping hundreds of other drivers who also need assistance. You might be waiting for 30 minutes for first responders to arrive.
Don’t make the situation worse. Turn on your emergency flashers and stay in your vehicle. You need to assume that other vehicles can slide out too. It’s safer to stay in the vehicle than risk getting hit by another sliding car while a pedestrian outside of your vehicle.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have a better chance at making it out of the snow and safely back home. If you are in an accident due to snowy weather, give us a call. We can help!