Winter can be a hazardous time to drive, depending on the region in which you operate your beloved vehicle. If you live in a region that tends to experience harsh conditions during winter, you would be well-served to pay close attention to what causes dangerous winter road conditions. The better you are informed; the better you will be prepared, particularly in places that experience snowfall and very cold temperatures.
So read on the for the five most common causes of dangerous winter road conditions.
By far the most common cause of dangerous road conditions, excess speed is the catalyst for a large percentage of winter road accidents. When driving in inclement weather, the number one thing you can do is to slow down. This will enable you to see more of what is going on around you, will help you keep more distance between you and other cars, will give you more control over your car, and will reduce your stopping time.
Remember that you must adjust your driving speed when driving during winter weather!
2. Inexperience/Lack of Training
Driving manuals don’t really get into detail about what to do when driving during inclement winter weather. Sure, they provide guidance, but reading words on a page is a far cry from learning behind the wheel. So another major cause of dangerous road conditions during winter is that people are inadequately prepared to handle the obstacles they will face on the road.
For example, how many people know that you should turn the SAME direction as the swerve your vehicle is suddenly doing on the snowy road? And how many of those people have been trained to do that very counter-intuitive maneuver?
To offset this issue, read up on advice about strategies for driving in winter weather. Watch YouTube videos and you can even practice a few things as long as you are in a large, empty parking lot.
The third greatest cause of dangerous winter road conditions is reduced visibility. Winter provides snow, cold rain, wind, fog and can ice up your windows. All of these things reduce visibility and thus increases the likelihood that you will encounter something unexpected. When we encounter something unexpected while driving, our instinct is to hit the brakes and/or swerve. These are the last things you want to do on potentially slippery roads.
To offset the danger posed by reduced visibility, be sure to scrape frost off of ALL of your car windows. Also, reduce your speed and turn on your headlights. Don’t turn on the brights, as that will just create more light that will reflect off the water molecules in the air. But other motorists are better able to see you if your headlights are on.
Also, make sure your wipers are new just before each winter and that they and their motors function well. This is a small, very reasonable price to pay for safer driving.
4. Black Ice
Black ice is ice that is invisible against the surface of the road. Because you can’t see it, you don’t know it’s there and thus you don’t know to avoid it. Your best weapons against black ice are clear thinking, good tires, and reduced speed. If the temperature has been erratic, but is regularly below freezing, there is probably black ice on the roads.
So slow down! Also, have good winter tires that grip the road better. Finally, remember how to handle your car if you do happen to swerve.
Slush often looks harmless because it’s not frozen and it doesn’t seem to give the impression of making things slippery like ice does. But consider the fact that you are driving on a material that is constantly moving under your tires.
Get the idea?
Slush can make your car, especially lighter weight cars, move in unexpected ways. It is also hard to get traction and get moving when driving in slush. As with every other danger mentioned, you ought to slow down and keep your senses focused on the driving you are doing.
The most important thing you can do to reduce dangerous winter road conditions is to not let winter weather take you by surprise. Know what the forecast is. Plan on doubling your driving or commute time. Use your mirrors to help you know what is going on around you at all times. Millions of people make it through winter without mishap every year; so can you.