While we don’t usually get severe weather in North Carolina, except in the mountains, driving in the cold season presents its own challenges regardless of the amount of snow a place receives.
With winter at our doorstep, let’s look at some of the challenges drivers face during this season and what precautions you can take to have an accident-free winter.
Replace Your Old Battery
As the mercury dips, the days get shorter and darkness becomes the dominant theme of our landscape, the battery of your car is going to have to work super hard to get your through the day, especially if you drive regularly.
From starting your car on cold mornings, to powering the heater, to keeping the headlights on, you are going to place a lot of demand on your car’s battery.
The average lifespan of a car battery is five years. If yours is nearing the end of its shelf life, don’t wait for another season or year or for the battery to die on you before you replace it.
Go ahead and just do it; you’ll have a load off your mind the next time you’re caught in a winter storm.
Check All the Parts
The best thing about modern cars is that they seldom die on you without warning. If the day is good, and your car has been in good condition, you can rely on it to give you excellent performance.
But ever-so-often pops up a niggle, and our first instinct is to ignore it. Don’t. Especially if it is anything to do with the brakes. If the brakes aren’t feeling as powerful as they should, have them checked straightaway. Get any windshield cracks repaired as well.
Also, make sure the headlights and fog lights of your car are clean and unimpeded by any kind of buildup. You want them to shine bright so as to make yourself known to other drivers on the road.
Winters are the worst time to be driving a car in a less-than-perfect condition. Almost all its parts undergo considerably higher degree of wear and tear compared to other months, so if your car is not in pristine condition, the chances of it just quitting on you are higher than usual. You really don’t want to push your luck.
Go Slow, Stay Safe
Speed is the ultimate killer. The slower you are, the lesser the chances of you being in an accident (unless you’re hit by someone).
Roads act crazy in winters. Rain, fog, sleet, ice… the list is pretty daunting. Going slow, slowing down even more ahead of curves or wherever the visibility is compromised, is the best thing you can do to keep yourself safe.
A slower car is easier to control and even if it does somewhat skid on the ice, you’ll be able to get it under control sooner than later.
Prepare a Winter Tool Kit
If you don’t want to spend on buying one, you can prepare one for yourself.
This is what your tool kit must contain:
• A shovel
• Jumper cables
• A flashlight
• Spare batteries for the flashlight
• Signal flares/strobe lights (for others to spot your vehicle)
• A pair of boots
• A blanket/coat + a pair of lined gloves
• A first aid kit
• Cat litter (for traction on the road)
• Dry snacks (cookies/dry fruits/granola bars)
• Bottled water (cold weather is extremely dehydrating)
Prepare the kit right at the start of the winter and keep it in the trunk of your car, regardless of whether you’re going to be driving in the city or on the highway.
When Your Car Is Skidding
When the vehicle begins to slide, it’s natural to panic. The feeling of being out of control is overwhelming for the best of us, and when it happens on the roads it puts us in the danger of being hit or us hitting something/someone.
The next time you find your car skidding, just keep maneuvering it in the direction you want to head in. We are assuming that you have been driving slowly, as mentioned earlier. With the speed low, your car will still skid but not to the extent that you will find yourself completely at sea. The worst thing you can do when you are spinning out of control is slam the brakes* to bring your vehicle to a screeching halt. It will only worsen the matters. It’s best to slow down, and keep on pointing the wheels of your car towards the direction you want to head in.
*In case your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, keep the pedal firmly pressed until the vehicle comes to a halt.
Winter is still some time away, but we believe forewarned is forearmed. You might want to bookmark this post for quick reference when it’s time for you to act on our suggestions.
Always charge your phone fully before you leave for the day and stock it with all the emergency numbers and helpful driving apps. Here’s a list of Raleigh-based emergency numbers if you find yourself in an unpleasant situation.
Download maps to your phone if you are going to be traveling to a new place; that way you will be able to access them even where you are not getting network.
During a winter storm we think the best way to stay out of trouble is not to drive at all. Take public transport, or even better, stay at home till the weather calms down a bit.
If you find yourself hit or know someone who is caught up in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact our personal injury attorneys for initial consultation. Have a safe and enjoyable winter!