For some of us who live in an area that gets rain, sleet and snow this time of the year, driving in these conditions can be hazardous. This year there has been an increase in auto accidents in the United States. The combination of less people on the road due to staying at home with the pandemic, people speeding and driving recklessly, decrease in police enforcement either due to staffing shortages or triaging other aspects of law enforcement and more people now getting back on the road has caused an increase in traffic deaths and accidents not seen this high since 2007.
That being said, with winter here and weather conditions changing, what can you do to avoid an accident? First the basics. Always wear your seatbelt. This is non-negotiable. Seatbelts save lives, its simple and easy to use. Never drive unbelted. Also basic, if you drink, don't drive. With the different driving services out there, you don't need to drive if you are going out. Have someone else drive, or have a friend be designated driver. Distracted driving is a big concern, if you are driving, there is no need to check your phone. Many newer cars have touchless control of your phone. If you don't have these features, wait until you get to your destination before you utilize your device. These are basic safety tips no matter what the weather conditions are like. Now for some specific bad weather driving tips.
Prepping your car before bad weather occurs include checking tire pressures ( tire pressures drop a little when the weather is cold. You need to fill tires up when they are warm so that you have a more accurate estimate of your tire pressure). Tires should be inspected to determine if there is wear with the tread to ascertain if you should get new tires for bad weather driving. Measure the tread with a penny, if you can see Lincoln's face, your tread is getting low. Windshield wipers should be changed if they are warn. Check them yourself in the fall or have your mechanic check them for you. You should have windshield wiper fluid filled in your reservoir. Never drive with the windows covered in snow. If they are, take a few minutes to clear the snow and ice off the windshield. Always have your side mirrors free from ice and snow.
Driving in bad weather is an indication for you to drop your speed under the posted speed limit. Always use your turn signal when changing lanes, bad weather can make visibility a challenge. Minimize changing lanes at the last minute. You should be aware of where you are going. If not, plan ahead or use a GPS device that has a voice command to help you to your destination.
Make sure you have some items that can help you in case your stranded or your car goes off the road. Some of these include a flashlight, shovel, blanket, boots, gloves, proper jacket and other attire, tow rope, bottled water and snack bars in case you call for a tow and you need to wait. Also have an extra cell phone battery back up or charging cable in your car.
If you should be in a car accident, there are a few things to remember. If the area is not safe, don't get out of the car. Wait for help or if you have a service that comes to you, call them and wait. If you are in an accident and there is no danger of getting injured, access the damage and determine if your vehicle is still drivable. If so, exchange information including drivers license and insurance information. It might be a good idea to take a picture of the license plate as well. If you are injured, call 911 and wait for an ambulance to come. Oftentimes people may feel fine when they are in an accident but can develop symptoms days, weeks or even months later. If you are injured in an auto accident and are in the Chicagoland area including, Elmhurst, Villa Park, Lombard, Melrose Park, Berkeley, Stone Park, Bellwood, Westchester, Bensenville, Northlake or Oak Brook and are experiencing neck pain, headaches, whiplash, low back pain, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, jaw pain, dizziness, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, hand, wrist or shoulder pain, contact us 24/7 at 800-862-5914 and schedule an appointment with a trauma trained physician today.