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Petrarca and Petrarca Law Offices

Rhode island winter highway accident where car skidded off the side of the road as traffic passes. Winter driving safety is of the utmost importance in the Northeast

Winter Driving Tips Explained By An RI Car Accident Attorney

Driving in winter presents an extra set of challenges, especially in Rhode Island where snowfall and ice are the norms. Hazardous driving conditions can increase danger behind the wheel, and if you don’t know how to handle the winter weather, you could find yourself in a life-changing crash. Winter driving safety can protect not only you but other drivers and your family. 

To help you stay safe this winter, we’ve put together this helpful winter driving preparedness checklist. Use it to stay safe on the road all winter long. And if you need a RI car accident lawyer to help you out after a winter crash or a black ice accident, Petrarca Law has your back. 

Winter driving safety statistics 

Fresh snow might be beautiful when you’re warm and snug indoors. But it can make your drive to work, school or the store feel like an arctic expedition. The New England snow and ice can also add an extra layer of danger to your trip. 

According to the Federal Highway Administration, snowy and icy roads cause over 1,800 deaths and 136,00 injuries every year, and 17% of all vehicle crashes occur during winter conditions. Icy roads are a particular threat. According to Icyroadsafety.com, the average icy road fatality count is 3.6 times more than the total deaths of all other winter weather hazards combined. 

Black ice is especially dangerous because it’s invisible. You might not even realize it’s there until you’re already driving on it. If you want to avoid black ice accidents or any other winter driving accidents, preparedness is key. That’s why we’ve put together our best winter driving safety tips for you. 

List of winter driving safety tips for Rhode Island drivers

Winter driving safety tips for Rhode Island: 

Prepare your vehicle

Safe winter driving begins before you even set out on the road. It begins by equipping your vehicle to handle the wintery conditions. 

Make sure that your tires can handle driving over snow and ice. You can purchase snow tires that are specially designed for wintery conditions, or use all season tires or all weather tires instead. Although all-season tires tend to wear out more quickly. Your tire pressure should be between 30-35 PSI in the winter. 

Try to keep your gas tank at least ¼ full at all times. Cold weather can cause condensation to build up in near-empty gas tanks, which could cause your fuel line to freeze up. If there’s a winter storm coming your way, fill up your tank completely. You don’t want to run out of gas in an emergency situation. 

It’s also wise to equip your vehicle with emergency supplies, in case you become stranded or stuck in the snow. A good winter driving preparedness checklist includes:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Windshield scraper and extra washer fluid
  • Snowbrush
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Tire chains and gloves
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency flairs or signal light
  • Snow shovel and snow brush
  • Salt, sand, or kitty litter
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare tire, wheel wrench, and jack
  • Warm clothing, such as a jacket, gloves, and toboggans
  • Cell phone charger

Remember to clear away all the snow, ice, and dirt from your car before driving. Don’t drive with snow or ice piled on top of your car, as it can fly off while you’re on the road and put other people at risk. Once your car is properly equipped, you can focus on other aspects of safe winter driving.  

How to drive safely during winter

Our biggest winter driving safety tip? Slow down. It can take up to 10 times longer to bring your car to a full stop on a snowy road. Keep an ample following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you, and steer clear of snowplows or other road equipment. 

If your car comes equipped with 4 wheel drive, it can be easy to lull yourself into a false sense of security. But don’t let your guard down. It’s still important to follow safety precautions, regardless of your vehicle’s capabilities.  

What to do if you’re caught in a blizzard

It’s best to avoid driving during winter storms unless you absolutely have to. But weather in New England is wild and unpredictable. If you find yourself stopped or stalled on the road during a snowstorm or a blizzard, stay calm. 

First, stay in your car. Call for help if your cell phone has a signal and make sure that your car is plainly visible. Turning on emergency lights or your car’s hazard lights can help others see you. 

Try not to run your car for long periods of time. You want to stay warm, but not deplete your fuel. Make sure that your exhaust pipe is clear from snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. 

How to avoid a black ice accident. Winter driving safety explained

If you find yourself on black ice, don’t panic. Resist the urge to slam on the breaks. While braking might be your first instinct, it can cause your car to skid and slide across the ice. Instead, ease up on the gas and tap your breaks in spurts. 

Hold the steering wheel as straight as you can. But if your car starts to drift to one side or the other, take care not to overcorrect. Try to steer your car away from traffic and into an area of greater traction–like ground covered with gravel, sand, or white snow. This can give your tires some much-needed traction and potentially help you avoid a black ice car accident. 

I’ve just been in a winter car accident. What should I do?

Unfortunately, even if you’ve done everything right, accidents can still happen. Drivers who aren’t used to the New England weather might not know how to react to snow and ice properly. Others simply don’t take winter driving safety as seriously as they should. Regardless of who’s at fault, a winter car accident can turn your whole world on its head in an instant. 

If you’ve been hurt in a winter car accident, you might be struggling to pay your medical bills or to get a proper payout from your insurance company. But you don’t have to go it alone. The dedicated RI personal injury lawyers at Petrarca Law can help you get the compensation you need. 

Who’s the best car accident lawyer in RI? 

With over 40 years of combined experience, the Rhode Island personal injury lawyers at Petrarca Law are here for you anytime, snow or shine. 

We can help you negotiate with insurance companies, file personal injury claims, and stand up for your rights both inside and outside the courtroom. We can even help you file a diminished value case for property damage, helping you receive the full and accurate value of your vehicle after a crash. Don’t just call any personal injury lawyer, cal a Providence personal injury lawyer that has experience fighting winter weather car accident cases

Call our office for a free consultation. Relax, we’re here for you.