Whether you are a recent transplant to New York or have lived here all your life, you certainly know the basic safety precautions that are essential for driving in winter. The American Safety Council, an online source for driver education and safety training, sums them up by pointing out the three key elements for protecting yourself and vehicle occupants in inclement weather:
- Stay alert for potential safety threats;
- Slow down to allow yourself time to react; and,
- Stay in control of your vehicle.
These elements are useful as an overview; however, it is the specific tips that are more effective in preventing winter car accidents – and protecting against the worst-case scenario if you are involved in one. A New York car accident lawyer can help with the legal process if you are hurt, but some recommendations include:
DO Make Sure Your Vehicle is Ready for Winter Driving. You put yourself at risk of accidents if you do not engage in proper maintenance and be proactive about safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a few suggestions specifically targeting the condition of your car:
- Hire a mechanic to check for leaks, repairs, and wear and tear;
- Test your battery, which can lose power as temperatures drop;
- Check windshield wipers and top off windshield wiper fluid; and,
- Always keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent the lines from freezing.
DO NOT Forget About Your Tires. As part of your preparation for driving in winter weather, make it a priority to check your tires. Tire pressure is affected by temperatures, so assess the levels periodically throughout the season. You might also consider installing tires with deeper and more flexible treads, which are better at retaining traction on slippery roads.
DO Focus on Crash Avoidance. Aside from tips that aim at what to do when you are losing control in winter weather, the AAA has numerous suggestions on how to avoid a crash from the outset:
- Avoid setting the cruise control in snow, sleet, or icy conditions.
- If you sense your vehicle beginning to slip, turn your steering wheel in the same direction. When your tires regain traction on the road, you will not have to compensate to get back on track.
- Besides your overall speed, go easy on the pedals. Accelerate slowly and apply the brakes gradually whenever possible.
- Allow extra distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you, calculating at around 8-10 seconds.
DO NOT Pull Over Unless You Absolutely Must. In an urgent situation, you should definitely get to safety as quickly as possible. However, avoid pulling over onto the shoulder for anything less than an emergency. Wintry conditions can lead to visibility issues, putting you at risk of an accident if other motorists cannot see your parked vehicle.
DO Know Your Vehicle’s Safety Capabilities. If your car has anti-lock brakes, traction control, or electronic stability control, make sure you understand how these features work. They are intended for safety purposes, but you may not be taking full advantage of the benefits if you are not familiar with these systems.
DO NOT Delay in Contacting a New York Car Accident Attorney About Your Rights
Winter car accidents happen. If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident, it is critical to consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Our team at The Mandel Law Firm is prepared to get started right away on a strategy for pursuing a negligent driver, so please contact our Manhattan office. You can call (646) 770-3868 or go online set up a no-cost case evaluation.