This has been a snowy February in Upstate, New York, especially in contrast to our January, which was green. More snow is predicted in the Finger Lakes and Syracuse area this week. So it seems like a good time for this New York car accident lawyer to review some safe driving tips for winter weather.
In fact, the New York Times just published an article on this very subject. But what do they know? They’re in balmy downstate. The REAL snow-and-ice driving experts are up here in the Syracuse area – the snowiest City in New York State. (No, it’s not Buffalo, it’s Syracuse, the winner of the “Golden Snowball Award” most years!)
FIRST, THE OBVIOUS:
Slow down. Wintery roads can be slippery. If there are any patches of snow or ice, you simply can’t drive as fast (at least not safely) as you would on dry pavement. Also, you may run into black ice, which is virtually invisible. You need more time to stop your vehicle on wintery roads.
Look at the forecast. These days, with smart phones in every pocket, there is no excuse for not looking ahead before you decide to take a trip. If it looks bad, wait it out.
Get a good set (four) of winter tires. I know your car dealer told you that your new car was equipped with “year-round” or “all-season” tires. But in Upstate New York they just won’t do. Winter tires are just so much safer on the slippery, snowy roads up here. The deep treads channel snow and slush quickly away from the tires and dig into the snow to provide better traction. Why risk it? Get winter tires.
NOW FOR THE NOT-SO-OBVIOUS:
Sometimes it’s best to steer off the road. It is not unusual in wintertime to be rounding a curve in the road, or cresting a hill, and suddenly find a lineup of cars virtually stopped. If the road is at all icy or snowy, your brakes might not allow you to stop in time to avoid rear-ending the guy in front of you. What to do? Try tapping your brakes, but if it looks like your vehicle will not stop in time, consider another option: Steer off the road. Yes, steer off the road, even if it means you will land in a ditch (as long as it’s not too deep, you should not have to worry about flipping). This option sure beats become part of the accordion-like pile up of rear-ending vehicles. Sure, you’ll have to get towed out, but you and your car are much less likely to end up damaged/injured.
Plan your route. If you must drive in snowy conditions, take the route where the plows and salters are more likely to be out early and often, even if that route is longer. For example, I live in Geneva and my office is in Auburn. I usually take the fastest route – along Route 318 – where the speed limit is 55. But on a very snowy day, I will stick to the main drag between here and Auburn – Routes 5/20 – even though the speed limit varies between 30 and 40. The speed limit is slower because it passes through Waterloo and Seneca Falls, but the snowplows and salters are always out in mass. And who wants to go 55 on a snowy, icy day anyway?
Avoid bridges and overpasses. Folks who aren’t used to these snowy climes don’t realize that elevated roadways – such as bridges or overpasses – freeze more easily than the regular roadway. That’s because the deep ground below the road warms up the surface. But when there is no ground below the road’s surface, the road’s temperature matches the air’s. That often means a quick and steady freeze anytime the air temperatures are below 32 degrees. So avoid bridges and overpasses when you are planning your route, or, if you have to take them, be extra careful and drive even more slowly over those stretches of highway.
Avoid using cruise control. The problem with using cruise control on snowy, icy, or wet pavement is that your wheels will continue to accelerate on the slippery sections of the road even when they lose traction, which can in turn cause your vehicle to veer, or hydroplane, or skid. Use the old-fashioned gas pedal instead, which you can quickly release when you feel your car losing traction.
Don’t worry fellow Upstaters — winter will be over soon enough. Meanwhile, avoid getting into a car collision on our wintery roads, and if someone not as careful as you crashes into you, don’t let them convince you that it was the “weather’s fault”. It never is. A motorist has a duty to avoid skidding, slipping and careening out of control in winter weather. They can and should avoid collisions by following the tips above, and so should you.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Syracuse NY Car Accident Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.