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| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

With the holiday season comes travel in bad winter weather. With winter travel comes an increase in the risk of serious car wrecks due to black ice, slippery roads, and major snow storms. With this in mind, here are five essential safety tips you and your loved ones should follow in order to avoid becoming a winter car wreck statistic…

1. Be prepared
Top off all your fluids, check out and replace your windshield wipers if necessary and check up on your tires to be sure there’s enough tread to give you good traction. In addition, stock up on some inexpensive supplies such as warm clothes, a small shovel and a bucket of salt. These items could be a lifesaver if your car gets stuck on snow-covered road.

2. Slow down
Maintain a slow and steady pace. Stay at, or below, the speed limit. This will help reduce the necessity of slamming on your brakes or make a sharp turn to avoid an accident.

One exception is when heading up a steep hill. Keeping your momentum is essential to climbing a hill without sliding backward. Just be sure not to overdo it and accidently drive down the other side too quickly.

3. Do not make sudden jerking movements or turns while driving
Maintain control, make gradual turns, and brake steadily. Why? Because if you turn the wheel suddenly or slam on the brakes, your tires may lose traction on snow and ice and cause your car to slide.

4. Keep your distance
Give yourself a longer following distance so you have more time to gradually come to a stop. A good rule of thumb is at least five seconds worth of following distance from the car in front of you. Furthermore, try not to drive next to another car on the highway since if either car starts to slide on a patch of black ice or snowy road, you may wind up hitting each other and suffering a serious injury.

5. Avoid being over-confident
Just because you drive an SUV or truck, do not think these safety tips do not apply. Many large vehicles, even large commercial trucks like big rigs/18-wheelers, are just as susceptible to sliding on an icy road and crashing into another vehicle. In fact the rules of the road for truckers put even higher duties on that industry to protect the public in good weather and foul.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.


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