Like most winters in West Virginia, this has been a tough one. Extreme cold and sudden blizzards have turned our roads and freeways into ice rinks. However, you still need to get to work and run your errands, which means braving not only the cold, but the potentially hazardous roads in your car. The way you drive during adverse weather conditions can make the difference between making it home safely or getting in a serious car accident.
If you have grown up in West Virginia or another northern state, you probably already know that the most important key to driving safely in the wintertime is slowing down. You face numerous hazards on the road this time of year, including the following:
- Frost, snow, slush, ice and mud making the roads more slippery
- Snowfall or fog reducing visibility
- Darkness falling during peak traffic hours
- Frequent, unexpected backups on freeways due to road conditions or accidents
These winter road dangers are often intensified by the presence of black ice during nighttime and early morning hours. Black ice can be difficult to see, or it may resemble wet, rather than icy, pavement. This type of ice forms a thin sheet on roads, and you may find your vehicle sliding before you realize what is happening.
As you might expect, reducing your speed may significantly lessen your odds of crashing. During the winter, you will also want to give other vehicles more room and not drive too closely to the vehicle in front of you, so you have extra stopping distance. Be cautious in areas where black ice is known to form, such as the shady areas underneath bridges or overpasses. If you regularly find yourself in a rush, try to leave 10 to 15 minutes early so you can get to your destination on time without driving too fast on hazardous roads.
Your actions may help keep you safe this winter, but you cannot control the way others drive. You may be eligible for compensation if another driver’s actions have injured you this winter.