The average West Virginia winter sees low temperatures in the 20s, with 10 or more inches of snow. Winter precipitation from November to April makes the roads especially dangerous for drivers. Even locals who normally drive in the wintertime can get into accidents due to the snow, sleet, and ice. With temperatures swiftly dropping, refresh your safe driving habits and arrive at your destination alive with these winter driving tips. In the event you or a loved one is injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver, explore your legal options by speaking with a car accident attorney in West Virginia.
Watch Weather Reports
Staying on top of what is happening outside can help keep you safe behind the wheel. Watch weather forecasts, so you know when a storm is coming and when to stay home. If you are planning to visit West Virginia over the holidays, check the weather ahead of time to know what to expect. That way, you can prepare your car and yourself for what lies ahead. Paying attention to the weather can help prevent you from being on the road in a bad storm.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Maintaining your vehicle and preparing it to drive in the winter are half the battle when it comes to staying safe. Your vehicle will operate differently in winter than it does in the summer. Your fluid levels may be lower, your tires may have lower air pressure, and you may need to pay special attention to your antifreeze levels. It is important to properly winterize your car before heading out in cold. Check your fluids and tire pressure, keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, and use snow tires if necessary.
Pack a Winter Emergency Kit
The emergency kit in your vehicle should contain winter-specific things, such as an emergency blanket, nonperishable food and water, candle-powered heater, and safety absorbent. It should also have a spare cell phone, batteries, and a radio to contact help if you are stuck in a storm. Keeping a winter emergency kit in your car can help you get out of dangerous situations, such as getting stuck in the snow. It can also keep you safe and comfortable while you wait for help to arrive.
Increase Following Distance
One of the most important driving tips to keep in mind during winter is not to overestimate your stopping power. Assume your vehicle will slide on the ice or snow instead of coming to a fast stop. Stopping in winter can be more difficult due to ice and water on the road. Leave ample following distance, keep your speed slow and sensible, and give yourself plenty of room to brake. Taking steps to prevent a rear-end collision in winter can keep others safe and save you from a frustrating liability issue.
Be especially cautious of jerking the wheel or overcorrecting if your vehicle slides out of control or hits a spot where you lose steering. This can cause a rollover or other serious car accident. Instead, calmly continue turning the steering wheel in the direction you are sliding. Avoid turning it too much. Gently tap the brakes until you slide to a stop. If the road looks slippery, test your traction with light brake application.
Pay Attention to the Road
Do not let your GPS, cell phone, heater, radio, or passengers distract you from the road. While you should dedicate 100% of your attention to the road 100% of the time, it is especially important to keep your eyes on the road in winter. Abruptly changing conditions, such as a sudden bout of snowfall or a stopped vehicle, can cause an accident if a driver is not paying attention. Be aware of the road and your surroundings when driving in winter.
Do Not Drive Drowsy
Get plenty of sleep beforehand if you are taking a long road trip for the holidays. Drowsy driving in winter can lead to loss of vehicle control, striking objects or other vehicles, and serious personal injuries. Drowsiness can impair a driver as much as alcoholic beverages. Stay awake and alert while driving in winter in West Virginia.