Those of us in the south are not as familiar with snow and ice conditions as people in other parts of the country. In addition to precipitating a rush to the grocery store to stock up on bread and milk, a snow event in the south also produces lots of car wrecks. Drivers should pay close attention to state trooper warnings and advisories about road conditions and avoid any unnecessary driving, but when icy conditions are encountered, the points below should be kept in mind.
Preparing your car for winter travel
Check the antifreeze, heater/de-frost, belts, hoses, battery, brakes, filters and oil.
If traveling in snow is unavoidable, consider using snow tires (sometimes called "winter tires"). Chains are another option and often more cost effective as well. Consider your options and talk to your local tire dealer or mechanic.
Be sure to have an emergency kit in the car, some blankets, snacks, a flashlight, charged cell phone, shovel, ice scraper and a change of clothing.
Driving safely on icy roads
It goes without saying, that staying home is always the first option but realistically it may not always be possible. As such, it is essential to learn how to safely navigate through snow and icy weather conditions.
Brush the snow off your vehicle, especially your lights, before you drive. It makes you more visible plus snow and ice flying off a vehicle can be dangerous to other drivers.
Buckle up and keep your seat belt buckled at all times.
Traveling in the snow can be a slow process. You should allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. Decrease your speed and allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Brake gently. If you are approaching a patch of ice, brake during your approach. Applying pressure to your brakes while on ice will only throw you into a skid. If your vehicle does begin to skid, stay calm.
Turn on your low-beam lights to increase visibility for you and also the other vehicles on the road.
Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
Don’t use overdrive or cruise control on icy roads.
Stay in the right-hand lane except when passing and use turn signals when changing lanes.
Avoid passing sanding trucks and snow plows. Snowplow drivers have a
limited field of vision.
If the road looks slick, it probably is. This is especially true with one of winter’s worst hazards: "black ice" which is defined as ice that remains on roadways that are not subjected to direct sunlight.
A Cum Laude Honors graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Alabama tort law expert Mike Roberts has successfully litigated cases covering civil litigation, personal injury, negligence, product liability, wrongful death and fraud. He is the author of six editions of Alabama Tort Law, and is licensed to practice law before the United States Supreme Court.