The winter months present many hazards for drivers. Icy roads, snowfall, rain, and fog all contribute to making the roads much more dangerous for motorists to travel on. Did you know that 17% of all vehicle crashes that occur annually happen as a result of winter weather conditions [Source: Property Casualty 360]?
Because winter weather conditions are known to contribute to roadway accidents, we’d like to share with you a few safety tips our Iowa City, IA car accident attorneys have come across that may help reduce your chances of engaging in an accident during the winter months.
- Have your mechanic check your battery, charging system, and belts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that “when the temperature drops, so does the battery power. For gasoline and diesel engines, it takes more battery power to start your vehicle in cold weather” and “for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, the driving range is reduced when the battery is cold.” Therefore, it is recommended that you have a mechanic check certain parts of your vehicle to ensure they are in good working condition and are replaced if needed.
- Be sure your vehicle’s lights are working and are clean.
When traveling in snowy conditions, it can be difficult to see the other vehicles traveling around you. Therefore, is it especially important that your vehicle’s turn signals, emergency flashers, headlights, brake lights, and your interior lights are working properly. The fact is, other drivers traveling by you depend on your lights/signals to notify them when you are stopping, turning, etc. as they too have a difficult time seeing what’s around them. Without properly functioning brake lights or turn signals, you are more likely to engage in a collision, especially when it is snowing.
- Check your wipers and defrosters to ensure they are in good, working condition.
The NHTSA recommends that you check your defrosters and windshield wipers to be sure they work and replace any worn blades if necessary. If you live in an area where there is heavy snowfall or will be traveling to an area where it will be snowing, you might even consider “installing heavy-duty winter wipers.”
- Make sure your tires are filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure.
In your vehicle’s owner’s manual as well as on the frame of the driver’s side door you will find the inflation pressure level for which your tires should be at. Your tires should be checked regularly to ensure the inflation pressure level does not fall below the recommended level. During the winter months when the temperature drops your vehicle’s tire inflation pressure drops as well and it is never recommended to travel on the road, especially when inclement weather is present, with tires that aren’t properly inflated.
Tip: The NHTSA says that “regardless of season inspect your tires at least once a month and before long trips.”
- Check to be sure that babies and small children are buckled into their car seats and booster seats properly as these help to reduce the chances of them suffering serious injuries in the event of an accident.
In additional to buckling your kids into their seats properly, remember that children should not be buckled in while wearing thick outwear. Although it “can keep your child warm, it can interfere with the proper harness fit on your child in a car seat.”
- Avoid engaging in any type of risky behavior.
The key to preventing an accident is staying alert and operating your vehicle with care. Although this doesn’t always prevent an accident from occurring, it definitely helps reduce the chances of one happening when you are paying attention to the road and practicing safe driving. Therefore, remember to keep cell phones and other things that tend to distract you out of sight until you have arrived safely to your destination.
- Make sure your vehicle is stocked with the essentials.
You never know when you might engage in an accident or run into car trouble which is why you should always carry the following items inside your vehicle with you when traveling in snowy weather:
- Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
- Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
- Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and emergency markers.
- Blankets for protection from the cold.
- A cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).
[Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)].
What if I was involved in an automobile accident as a result of the winter weather?
Inclement weather plays a role in many of the car crashes that transpire on Iowa roadways. If you were involved in a car wreck and suffered injuries in Iowa, it is important that you consult with one of our Iowa City, IA car accident lawyers to be sure your insurer handles your claim fairly. Insurers sometimes undervalue claims, leaving a victim liable for covering some of the incurred expenses their insurer should have paid. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, we suggest you contact our IA car accident law firm today.
You can reach Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, P.L.C. at:
1921 51st Street NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
Phone: (319) 393-1020
Fax: (319) 393-4000