When the weather turns cold and snow begins to fall, messy road conditions become hazardous and winter-related car accidents can happen. Driving in the snow, sleet and slush can be intimidating and dangerous even for the most experienced drivers.
Inclement weather poses unfavorable conditions and can make driving a daunting task. Dangers include decreased visibility, unpredictable road conditions, lane obstruction and reduced pavement friction. Iowa is ranked as the 7th most dangerous state for snow driving. Fortunately, being prepared can go a long way in mitigating the hazards of driving in the snow.
Winter driving safety tips
The Iowa Department of Transportation recommends that you take time to find out about weather and road conditions before you travel. Also, clear off snow from your vehicle and your headlights and check your car’s fluid levels, battery and windshield wipers. Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle, including an ice scraper, flashlight, blankets, warm clothing, sand and a shovel.
If you must be on the road in bad weather, these winter driving practices can reduce the chance of being in an accident:
- Disable cruise control. Cruise control increases the chances of losing control of your car when used in snowy or icy conditions. If your car skids on ice, the tires will continue to spin at the set speed, making it more likely to lose control of your vehicle.
- Avoid distracted driving. Follow Iowa’s distracted driving law and do not text message while driving. Multitasking when you are behind the wheel can increase your risk of becoming distracted while driving.
- Watch your speed. Reducing your speed is the most important thing you can do when driving on snow and ice. Slowing down will account for lower pavement traction and will give you extra room to stop.
- Brake correctly. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) has been a standard safety feature since the 1990s, but it does not function well on slippery roads. To stop safely with ABS, press the brake pedal firmly and hold it in place. The pedal will be pulsing or vibrating – this is normal and signals that the ABS is engaged. Fight any instinct to hit the brakes as it will deactivate the ABS.
Winter storms can create slippery pavements and make driving conditions hazardous. Regardless of snow, ice, sleet and wind, winter weather does not slow down Iowans. If you must drive in inclement weather conditions this winter, take extra precautions to ensure a safe journey.