Winter is here in Oklahoma City, and while we usually don’t see a lot of snow, we always see some, as well as several days a year when the temperature fails to rise above freezing. Wintertime means winter driving, which can be dangerous. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 1,300 people are killed each year and more than 116,000 are injured in traffic-related accidents that occur on slushy, snowy, or icy roadways. Read on for more information about preparing yourself for winter driving in Oklahoma City.
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Before You Go
Preparation means planning ahead and it is definitely a good idea when it comes to winter driving. Before you hit the road this winter, make sure you do the following:
- Plan your trip carefully, paying close attention to weather forecasts and road conditions, not only for the local area but for any area that you are traveling through on your journey.
- Leave earlier than you need to. This will give you the time you may need to travel slowly on slick roads.
- Let your engine heat up before you turn the heat on. If you start your car well before you need to leave, you will have better fuel efficiency and you won’t be distracted from the road by your shivers.
- Remove all frost from your windshield and windows. Driving with obstructed vision is incredibly dangerous.
- Always let someone know when you are intending to leave on a winter road trip, your anticipated arrival, and the route you are planning to take.
In Your Car
Pack a winter driving kit in your car that includes winter car care items such as:
- Jumper cables, anti-ice windshield wiper fluid, tire chains, and a jack.
- A change of clothes, an extra pair of mittens and a warm hat.
- Non-perishable snacks and bottled water.
- An ice and snow remover.
These items will not only help you stay warm and focused while driving in cold temperatures, but could also potentially save your life if you end up in a car accident in the middle of winter.
Under the Hood
It is important heading into the winter months to do routine maintenance on your car to ensure that it is in proper working order. Some of the areas you should pay close attention to include:
- The battery.
- The windshield wiper and wiper fluid.
- The oil — there is a winter blend that can help your car perform better in cold weather.
- Brakes and brake fluid.
- Heater and defroster.
You should also ensure that your tires have good tread for the winter conditions. Be aware that cold weather will reduce your tire pressure, so you should check it regularly through the winter months.
On the Road
The safest place to be during a winter storm is at home. However, if you simply must go out, there are a number of things you should do in order to help your journey be a safer one:
- Slow down. The faster you’re traveling, the harder it is to maintain control of your vehicle and the longer it takes for your vehicle to stop, even on dry roads. Slippery surfaces increase the risk of losing control or being unable to stop.
- Increase the distance between your car and the car in front of you to at least six seconds. It takes an amount of time and distance for a vehicle to come to a safe stop. The distance needed for stopping increases with the size and the weight of the vehicle, and increases for all vehicles — no matter what size — on slippery surfaces.
- Avoid braking and turning at the same time on icy roads, as this can cause you to skid. Instead, brake first, then turn, then accelerate.
- Remember that in Oklahoma, the bridges and overpasses are the first roadways to freeze. Use caution when traveling in these areas in cold weather, even if the roadway before the bridge or overpass was not icy at all.
- Do not use cruise control on wet, icy, or snowy roads. If you hydroplane or skid, your car will continue to try and accelerate in order to maintain the cruise control speed.
The Wolf Pack Can Help
While preparation can increase your safety when driving during the winter months, it won’t make other drivers more prepared or less careless. If you have been injured by a careless or reckless driver, the Wolf Pack at Colbert Cooper Hill Attorneys can provide guidance as to the legal options that can help you obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts your injury has caused. Contact us by calling (405) 218-9200 or fill out our online form to schedule a case evaluation.