Throughout parts of Illinois, winter weather has already left more than a foot of snow. Other areas of the country are covered in ice and snow, and more winter weather is expected in the months to come. All that snow and ice places drivers are at a higher risk for automobile accidents, deaths, and injuries. Stay safe on the roads, and in your car, with the “three P's of safe winter driving” from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Prepare, Protect, and Prevent.
Prepare for Trips
Careful planning and preparation can make all the difference when it comes to staying safe on the roads. The following are areas of extreme importance, and should be practiced by all drivers this winter:
- Winterize your car by checking the battery, tire tread and pressure, anti-freeze levels, and washer reservoir fluid. If possible, install winter tires or tire chains;
- Always fully clear snow and ice from your windows and windshield before driving;
- Keep a flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive materials (sand, cat litter, etc.), shovel, brush and scraper, warning device (flares or bright colored tape), extra blankets, food, water, medication, and cell phone in your car at all times;
- Always check the weather before driving, and leave early if necessary;
- Carefully plan your route and familiarize yourself with maps or directions;
- Notify family members, friends, or coworkers of your expected arrival time; and
- Practice driving in poor road conditions in an empty lot. Know what your car and brakes will do on ice or snow, and remember that your stopping distances are longer.
Protect Yourself and Your Family
Protection rules should apply all year long, but they become crucial during winter months, when accidents are more likely and roads are more dangerous. Examples include:
- Buckling up and using all child safety seats correctly;
- Placing infants and children under the age of 12 in the back seat when possible;
- Never placing a rear-facing infant seat in the front seat with an airbag; and
- Not exiting your vehicle if you are stopped or stalled. Instead, place bright markers on your car's antenna or windows, shine the dome light, avoid overexertion, and clear your car's exhaust pipe just enough to keep it running to stay warm. (If, however, you are stuck for a long period of time, be prepared to shut your car off periodically to avoid a build-up of fumes.)
To prevent crashes during winter weather, drivers should be mindful of both typical driving safety rules as well as rules specific to poor driving conditions. Practice the following:
- Avoid the use of drugs or alcohol when planning to drive;
- Slow down and increase the distance between your car and the car in front of you;
- Watch closely for pedestrians; and
- Avoid fatigue by resting well before a trip. Stop frequently (at least every three hours), and rotate drivers for long trips, when possible.
Injured in an Accident? You May be Entitled to Compensation
Even when you practice safe driving, accidents are still a risk. If you are involved in an accident and injured because of the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important to note, however, that automobile accidents are often complex in nature. Do not attempt to handle the process alone.
The Illinois automobile accident attorneys at Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, P.C. have more than 75 years of combined experience. Passionate about helping victims and dedicated to protecting their rights, we know what it takes to build a solid case for accident victims. Schedule your free initial consultation and ask how we can help with your case. Call us at [[phone]] today.