Tips For Winter Driving
Snow is inevitable, as is having to drive in it. When the white stuff hits the ground, it pays to be cautious. Snow and ice cause all sorts of problems on the road, including visibility impairments, vehicle performance (traction, stability and maneuverability), pavement friction, roadway infrastructure, crash risk and traffic flow.
Weather conditions also impact traffic safety. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov), there are more than 6,301,000 vehicle crashes each year. Twenty-four percent of these crashes - approximately 1,511,000 - are weather-related. Weather-related crashes are defined as those crashes that occur in adverse weather (i.e., rain, sleet, snow and / or fog) or on slick pavement (i.e., wet pavement, snowy / slushy pavement or icy pavement). On average, 7,130 people are killed and over 629,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year.
While rain is a factor in the majority of weather-related crashes; 15 percent of those million-plus accidents happen during snow or sleet, 13 percent occur on icy pavement and 11 percent of weather-related crashes take place on snowy or slushy pavement.
One of the biggest impacts weather has on driving is mobility on the roads. On freeways, light rain or snow can reduce average speed by three to 13 percent. In heavy snow, average freeway speeds can decline by five to 40 percent.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (www.wsdot.wa.gov/winter) suggests these tips for driving in snow and ice conditions:
• Drive for conditions - slower speeds, slower acceleration.
• Use your headlights.
• Do not use cruise control.
• Four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice.
• Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. The larger the vehicle, the longer the stopping distance.
• Slow down when approaching intersections, off ramps, bridges, or shady spots.
• If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it until it is safe to pass. Remember that a snowplow driver has a limited field of vision. Stay back (15 car lengths) until you’re sure it is safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road.
• On multi-lane roadways, snow plows often need to clear the center, throwing snow, ice and slush into nearby lanes. If approaching an on-coming snow plow, slow down and give the plow a little extra room.
• Slow down and be extra cautious near the chain-up and removal areas. There are often people out of their vehicles.
But, no matter how cautious you are, accidents do occur and when they do, use quality, recycled auto parts to fix your vehicle. Contact any of the professional auto recyclers in this magazine for your part needs.