Winter in Pennsylvania can be beautiful, but it also brings challenging weather conditions that can make driving hazardous. Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures increase the risk of car accidents during this season.
However, with some essential safety tips, you can navigate the roads safely and reduce the chances of being involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania this winter. If you are involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, our experienced car accident attorneys can help you recover compensation.
Common Causes of Winter Weather Accidents
Before knowing how to stay safe on the roads this winter, it is important to know some common causes of winter weather accidents.
Icy and snow-covered roads are a primary cause of winter weather accidents. When temperatures drop, moisture on the road can freeze, making it slippery. Black ice, which is nearly invisible, poses a significant threat to drivers.
Snowfall, freezing rain, and fog can reduce visibility on the road. Limited visibility increases the risk of collisions, especially when drivers fail to adapt their speed and following distance.
Worn-out or improper tires can significantly affect a vehicle’s traction on slippery roads. All-season or winter tires with good tread depth are essential for maintaining control in winter conditions.
Driving at excessive speeds during winter weather is a recipe for disaster. Reduced traction makes it difficult to stop quickly, increasing the chances of rear-end collisions and loss of control.
Abrupt movements like sharp turns, rapid lane changes, and hard braking can lead to skids and accidents on icy roads. Maintaining a steady and cautious driving style is crucial.
Following Too Closely
Tailgating in winter weather is dangerous. Drivers need extra space to stop on slippery roads. Following too closely can result in rear-end collisions.
Neglecting Vehicle Maintenance
Failing to prepare your vehicle for winter conditions can lead to accidents. Insufficient antifreeze, malfunctioning brakes, and non-functional defrosters can contribute to accidents.
Poorly Maintained Roads
Sometimes, winter accidents occur due to poorly maintained or uncleared roads. Drivers should report hazardous road conditions to local authorities.
Inexperienced drivers may struggle to adapt to winter conditions. Proper training and practice in winter driving are essential for safety.
Distractions like texting or adjusting the radio can divert drivers’ attention, making them more susceptible to accidents, especially on icy roads.
Understanding these common causes of winter weather accidents can help drivers take precautions and reduce the risk of accidents during the colder months. Prioritizing safety and adapting driving habits to winter conditions is paramount for everyone on the road.
Staying Safe While Driving in Winter-Weather
Now that you know some of the leading causes of winter-weather driving accidents, let’s cover some tips to help you stay safe. These include:
Prepare Your Vehicle
Before the winter season fully sets in, preparing your vehicle for the challenges ahead is crucial. Ensure that your car is in top condition:
- Tires: Check your tires for proper tread depth and inflation. Consider snow tires for added traction.
- Brakes: Test your brakes to ensure they are in good working order.
- Check the fluids: Ensure all fluids, including antifreeze and windshield washer fluid, are at the correct levels.
- Check your gas: Keep your gas tank half full to avoid freezing the fuel line.
One of the best ways to avoid a car accident in Pennsylvania during the winter is to plan your trips carefully:
- Know what to expect: Check the weather forecast before heading out, and avoid driving during severe weather conditions if possible.
- Let others know where you are going: Let someone know your travel plans and expected arrival times.
- Have an emergency kit: Keep an emergency kit in your car, including a flashlight, blankets, food, water, and a first aid kit.
Winter driving requires a different approach compared to other seasons. Adjust your driving habits to stay safe:
- Speed: Reduce your speed and increase the following distance to allow longer stopping distances on slippery roads.
- Sudden movements: Avoid sudden movements, such as sharp turns or quick stops, as this can lead to loss of control.
- Lights and visibility: Use your headlights, even during the day, to increase visibility to other drivers.
Clear Snow and Ice
Before hitting the road, ensure your car is snow and ice-free. If you leave this on your vehicle, it may obstruct your view.
Clear all windows, mirrors, and lights to maximize visibility. You should also remove snow and ice from your roof to prevent it from sliding onto your windshield or other vehicles.
Know How to Handle Skids
Anyone who has driven in snow and ice knows that skidding happens – it is a part of winter-weather driving. Knowing how to handle this situation is essential. When you know the right steps and stay calm, you can handle a skid without causing an accident.
If your car starts to skid, ease off the gas pedal gently. Steer in the direction you want to go but avoid oversteering. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal.
Watch for Black Ice
Black ice, which is nearly invisible, is a significant hazard during winter. You must stay vigilant to ensure you are not in an accident because of black ice.
Bridges and overpasses are common locations for black ice, so approach them cautiously.
Do not brake suddenly or make sudden movements if you encounter black ice. Let off the gas and steer straight until you regain control.
Keep a Safe Distance from Snowplows
While snowplows are essential for clearing the roads, giving them plenty of space is crucial.
Snowplows can create clouds of snow and ice that reduce visibility, so stay at least 200 feet.
Pass a snowplow only when it’s safe and legal to do so.
Be Extra Cautious at Intersections
Intersections can be particularly treacherous in winter conditions. Approach intersections slowly, as other drivers may have difficulty stopping on icy roads. Be prepared for drivers who may slide through intersections or fail to stop at red lights.
Avoid Unnecessary Trips
If the weather is severe and road conditions are hazardous, consider postponing non-essential trips. Staying off the roads during extreme weather can greatly reduce the risk of a car accident in Pennsylvania.
Contact an Attorney If You’re in an Accident
Despite taking precautions, accidents can still happen. If you’re involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania, especially during winter, it’s essential to follow these steps:
- Check for injuries and seek medical attention if needed.
- Contact the police to report the accident.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved.
- Take photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Consider consulting an attorney, especially if there are disputes or injuries.
We Can Help with Your Winter-Weather Car Accident in Pennsylvania
Winter driving in Pennsylvania presents unique challenges, but following these safety tips can reduce the risk of a car accident in Pennsylvania and help you stay safe on the road. Remember that safety should always be your top priority when driving in winter weather.
If you are involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys. We can help you recover compensation.