Driving on Ice & Snow in St. Louis, Missouri–Safety Tips
Posted on January 2nd, 2013 by Zane Cagle
In the last week of snow and freezing temperatures, we all are painfully aware that we will be driving on ice and snow here in the Midwest. Car accidents and vehicle stalls are more common during inclement weather. There are some safety tips that we all should remind ourselves of this time of year:
The best safety tip for driving in bad weather is to Not Drive if you can avoid it. Other rules to follow are as follows:
Wait until snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work.
If you must travel/drive—make sure that your car is prepared and that you know how to handle the road conditions. We have previously blogged about equping your vehicle for emergency conditions & included safety tips called “Winter Prepping Your Ride”
Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
If you must drive, refresh your memory with these safety tips:
- Decrease your speed and leave plenty of stopping distance. Allow three times more space than you normally would between the car in front of you and your car.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels lock up, ease off of the brake
- Turn on your light to increase your visibility to other motorists
- Turn on your lights and windshield cleaner (warm your car up before leaving so it has time to defrost)
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills
- Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads which will freeze first. Even if the temperatures are not well below freezing, these areas tend to freeze first
- Don’t pass snow plows or sanding trucks as those drivers sometimes have limited visibility. The road in front of them is likely to be worse than the road behind them
- Don’t assume that your vehicle can handle the road conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive automobiles have trouble in snow and especially on ic
If your rear wheels skid:
- Take your foot off of the accelerator
- Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go……if your rear wheels are skidding left, then steer left, etc.
- If your rear wheels start skidding the other way as you recover, then ease the steer wheel toward that side.
- If you have standard brakes, pump them gently
- If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse and this is normal
If your front wheels skid:
- Take your foot off of the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t steer immediately
- As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and tract will return. As it does, steer in the direction that you want to go, then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, accelerating slowly
If you get stuck:
- Do not spin your wheels, this will only dig you in deeper
- Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way
- Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out
- Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of your car
- Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels in order to gain traction
- Try rocking the vehicle but check your owner’s manual first as it can damage the transmission in some vehicles). Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you are in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
Of course, auto club memberships are great things to have for a small price. But in bad weather, if you have car problems or get stuck, it may take some time for wreckers or authorities to reach you. It is always good to have a charged cell phone so that you may reach help without walking long distances in the cold and snow.
It is extremely important that if you are traveling on busy roads like interstates such as I-70, I-64/40 or I-44, and your car breaks down that you immediately turn on your flashers and work to get your car off of the road. Stranded cars are easily hit by other motor vehicles and serious injuries and death can be the result. Since I have seen so many injuries and deaths from roadside accidents in my line of work, I make it a hard rule to not pull over to the side of an interstate. This is not always easy when traveling with small children who just do not or cannot wait until an exit. The screaming and fits can tempt you to pull over as an “emergency”……………it’s never a good idea. Interstates and busy highways are dangerous places for cars on the shoulder. The only true “emergency” is if your car completely stalls. If so, call 911, get out and leave the immediate area.
Auto accidents are more common in inclement weather, but the day to day causes are still present such as inattentiveness and alcohol related factors. If you have been in an auto accident, you may not need an attorney. Only if you were seriously injured, meaning that your injury does not heal in a few days/short weeks do you need an attorney or if another party claims you are at fault. In either or both of these conditions, you need to consult a personal injury attorney.
At The Cagle Law Firm, we represent victims of motor vehicle accidents with serious injuries. We accept calls at any time, seven days a week. Call 1(314) 276-1681 if you need a free consultation. Information is power and we are happy to share information critical to your future.