With the holidays just around the corner - and after our first taste of winter weather over the last few weeks - our personal injury lawyers want to remind you about the importance of safety when roadway conditions are poor. Winter weather conditions can create ideal circumstances for car accidents, simply because many drivers don't adjust their habits behind the wheel to accommodate for bad weather. Snowy or icy conditions can result in slick roads and limited visibility: when traveling in winter weather, you'll want to take certain precautions to help ensure you arrive safely at your destination.
Of course, when the weather is bad, the best choice is to avoid driving until the roads have been cleared. However, if staying home isn't an option, here are a few tips to help you travel safely in winter weather.
Before you go:
• The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recommends that you "winterize" your vehicle before you travel. Make sure you have fresh antifreeze and a reliable battery; get your oil changed; and have your exhaust system checked.
• Prepare an emergency kit containing supplies you might need if you're involved in an accident, or if your vehicle becomes disabled. You might include the following items: a flashlight; a first-aid kit; blankets; extra winter weather clothing (hats, gloves, socks); a small sack of sand (to help you get traction under your tires); an ice scraper/snow brush; a basic toolkit; a small shovel; jumper cables; bottled water; nonperishable foods; etc.
• Check road conditions for your route. You can receive updates 24 hours a day by calling 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636).
When you're on the road:
• Slow down: avoid speeding, and adjust your speed for road and traffic conditions.
• Allow plenty of extra room for yourself, just in case you need to stop. The National Safety Council advises that you allow about three times more space than usual between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
• Keep your headlights on so you're more visible to other motorists.
• Brake gently to reduce your risk of skidding on snow or ice.
• Use extra caution on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads.
• Avoid passing snowplows, and allow these large vehicles extra room.
• Always wear your seat belt.
• If you don't feel safe driving, pull over and park at the first safe opportunity.