March 17, 2015
New York Winter Driving Can Turn Simply Monstrous
By Jonathan Damashek
It’s that time of year when winter storms blast the Northeast and New York drivers have to deal with icy roads and treacherous driving conditions. When motorists ignore the effects of freezing rain and snow and drive too fast for the road conditions, they put everyone outside at risk of an accident.
Icy road conditions can cause fender benders, rear end collisions, and more serious accidents leading to severe and fatal injuries. Motorists may be stranded for hours in harsh conditions after a wreck, as happened recently.
A FDNY lieutenant told silive.com that the road should have been salted before the early morning pile up and that first responders had been on the scene clearing the wreckage for more than an hour before a salt spreader arrived.
Earlier in the month, winter storm Hektor created dangerous driving conditions across the Northeast that claimed the life of a 32 year old Florida, N.Y. man who lost control of his vehicle on an icy road and hit a utility pole in Chester, N.Y., according to a weather.com article.
Remain Extra Alert to Anticipate and Avoid Icy Road Accidents
Motorists need to use extra caution when driving in winter conditions and try to anticipate dangerous situations to avoid them. If freezing rain has recently begun falling, the roads may not be salted. The dangers of winter driving include hazards that are obvious as well as those that are difficult to see.
- Black Ice: This hazard is caused when the air temperature reaches 32 degrees at or below the ground and rain starts to fall and freeze on contact, creating a sheet of ice, according to com. Black ice is hard to see because it is clear and blends with the pavement.
- Ice and snow: Ice sets up, causing motorists to slip and slide, when the surface temperature on wet roads dips below the freezing point, com points out. Because the ground turns warm slower than air, ice can be on roads even when the temperature is above freezing.
Tips to Avoid Accidents on Icy Roads
Follow these New York winter driving recommendations from the American Automobile Club:
- Check your tires for proper inflation and don’t buy into the myth that you drive more safely on under inflated tires.
- Don’t mix radial tires with other types of tires.
- Drive slower than normal because coming to a stop on snowy roads takes longer than on dry pavement.
- Increase your following distance from four seconds to eight or 10 seconds to give yourself time to stop behind other vehicles.
- Maintaining forward momentum is important on snow covered roads. Avoid stopping to the extent possible, particularly on hills. Try to time driving so you can roll through intersections when the light turns green.
- Keep at least a half tank of gas to keep condensation from forming and freezing in the fuel line.
- If you start to slide on ice, turn the wheel in the direction you want the vehicle to go.
- Don’t try to overpower hills because giving your car too much gas makes the wheels spin. Use momentum to carry you up the hill, then reduce your speed at the top and proceed carefully down the other side.
- Be alert for black ice and check thermometers outside to be prepared for the possibility of sheets of ice. Black ice almost eliminates traction, so the best rule when you hit a sheet is to remain calm and let the car pass over it, accuweather.com reports.
Prepare For Long Distance Trips
- Check weather reports and delay trips when snow and ice storms are predicted.
- Winter driving requires more energy and alertness than normal so get plenty of rest before a long distance drive.
- Keep a cell phone on hand for emergencies and pack your vehicle with supplies such as blankets, gloves, hats, food, water, medication, and some cat litter, which could give your vehicle traction to get out of a ditch.
- Stay with your vehicle in case you get snowbound. It will give you shelter and help rescuers find you.
- Tie a bright cloth to the antenna as a distress signal and turn on your dome light if it’s nighttime.
- Keep your exhaust pipe clear of snow, ice, and mud.
- If necessary, run the engine long enough to keep the vehicle warm but don’t burn all your gas.
If possible, stay home during winter storms. Many people can work on computers and get plenty of office chores done without taking a risky drive to their place of business.
If you are injured in a car accident caused by another driver, discuss your legal options with a New York car accident lawyer.