Safe Driving on Icy and Snowy Nebraska Roads
Severe weather is a way of life in Nebraska during the winter months. In fact, over 110,000 people suffer from injuries that were incurred during snowy and icy weather on the roads in the United States every winter.
When considering winter travel, the first thing to remember is not to drive in snowy weather unless you absolutely have to. Check the weather in advance and plan ahead to avoid driving in icy, snowy, and slushy conditions. If you must drive, sure someone knows where you are going and keep in touch. Use your cell phone to call your contacts as soon as you have reached your destination so they know you’re safe.
What to Do Before You Start
When it comes to driving in winter weather conditions, a little preparation goes a long way. Make sure your car is ready and you have everything you need before beginning your trip. The following safety precautions can make a world of difference when driving in harsh winter weather:
- Remove all ice and snow from your windows, mirrors, roof, hood, and trunk.
- Equip your car with snow tires and keep them fully inflated.
- Always have at least half a tank of gas.
- Carry a snow shovel and sand or kitty litter for traction.
- Carry emergency supplies: Water, blankets, non-perishable food, flares, flashlight, windshield scraper, cellphone charger, a first aid kit, gloves, jacket, and snow boots.
Slow and Steady
Always remember: Slow and steady is the way to go when driving in the ice and snow. Even if you feel confident you can control your vehicle in icy conditions, it’s best to reduce your speed to avoid any unexpected conditions. Be sure to always wear your seatbelt and increase your following distance behind other cars to five or six seconds to give yourself more time to react.
Never use cruise control when driving in icy or snowy conditions because it eliminates your ability to make minor adjustments that help maintain control of the vehicle. Apply light but steady pressure to the gas pedal, accelerating and decelerating slowly. Applying too much pressure can cause your tires to spin and going too slow can cause you to lose traction.
Be careful not to accelerate too fast when going uphill and start to reduce pressure on the gas pedal as you reach the top of the hill. Try to avoid coming to a complete stop if you can avoid it because it may be difficult to start moving again without spinning your wheels.
Don’t make jerky motions with your steering wheel. Maintain concentration and look ahead to anticipate where you want to go so you only have to make minor adjustments in your steering. Many cars have all-wheel drive, making it much easier to stay in control, but this may give drivers a false sense of security. You still want to drive with caution and avoid any sudden turns.
If you are driving in a vehicle that has rear-wheel drive and you begin to skid, gently turn into the skid to regain control. That means if the back of your car is sliding to the left, turn left until it straightens out. This can be difficult to do because your instincts tell you to turn right when you are sliding left, but that will only make things worse.
Avoid sudden braking, which can lead to loss of control of your vehicle and cause you to slide. Today’s cars are equipped with anti-lock braking that instantly adjusts to road conditions. If you start to skid, keep your heel on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply constant pressure to the brakes. This may feel strange, but you will want to continue to steer your vehicle away from trouble as you maintain steady pressure on the brakes.
Things to Look Out For
One of the biggest hazards when driving in snowy weather is black ice, which is invisible patches of ice that form after a storm when temperatures dip below freezing. Without any warning, a patch of black ice can cause a vehicle to slide right off the road.
Watch out for shiny spots on the road that indicate icy conditions. Sunrise and sunset are the times when the temperature can drop down and most black ice can form. If possible, do not drive during these times while conditions are icy, and maintain slower speeds after a storm, even if it’s warm and sunny outside.
Slushy snow is another concern. It’s actually easier to maintain traction on dry, firmly packed snow than on slushy snow that develops as it begins to melt, so be extra careful.
What to Do if You Get Stuck
If you get stuck in the snow, try to move your car out of traffic if possible. Then stay inside your vehicle and call 911 for roadside assistance. Tie a brightly colored piece of cloth to your antenna as a distress signal and do everything you can to stay warm. Use any type of insulation you have to cover yourself, such as clothes, tarps, and paper, and wait for help to arrive.
Need to Speak to An Omaha Crash Lawyer?
If you are injured due to the negligence of another driver in icy road conditions, we can help. The first thing to do is get any needed emergency medical attention for you or your passengers. For your best chance of recovering full and fair compensation, speak with an Omaha car accident injury lawyer. Call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a FREE consultation.
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