Overcoming Winter Driving Hazards

by on November 1st, 2014
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Introduction

It is winter driving season again and we want everyone to get through it safely and without incident. There are too many winter automobile accidents that claim too many lives and cause too many personal injuries. This article will discuss some of the major hazards we all face and suggest some possible solutions.

Darkness

Darkness prevails in the winter and it is dark for a good part of the day. On the East Coast the sun comes up around 7 AM and then goes down in the afternoon, usually around 5 PM. The rest of the time is total darkness. Many drivers find it difficult to concentrate in the darkness, and difficult to see cyclists, pedestrians, and other moving cars. The glare from the headlights of oncoming traffic makes the situation much worse. Obviously, cyclists and pedestrians should wear bright colored clothes and cyclist should wear light reflectors as well. Motorists should always have there headlights on while driving in the dark so others drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians can see them.

Low Temperatures

As the temperatures drop, the roads are exposed to all types of possible hazards. All of these hazards require drivers to slow down and leave a large distance between themselves and the car in front of them. One needs a lot of space to stop a car in slippery conditions. Whenever there is snow on the road, the road will be slippery and dangerous. Ice is another common threat. When rain hits the road and the temperatures are below freezing, the water turns to dangerous, slippery ice. Black ice is another major problem, as it is very difficult to see. A sudden patch of black ice can cause a driver to lose control of the car. Sleet is another major problem as it makes the road slippery and difficult to pass over. This is especially true with hills that require great care while ascending and descending.

Fog

Fog is a very frightening hazard, that causes many accidents. Fog reduces visibility and, when thick enough, can make it impossible to see beyond the hood of the car. Fog lights should be on when traveling through fog, driving speed should be greatly reduced, and never follow too closely to the car in front of your car. Allow a generous stopping distance between your car and the car in front you.

I live in northeastern Pennsylvania which is very mountainous. I can say from personal experience that driving in fog is one of the most terrifying experiences this life has to offer. I can remember being caught in the fog, and I could not see beyond the hood of my car. I had no idea what was in front of me or behind me, and I could not pull off to the side of the road as the side of the road was invisible. I could not stop the car, as the driver behind me would hit me from behind. I slowed down, kept driving, and hoped and prayed for the best. Somehow, I made it through the fog.

Unexpected Delays

Although it is winter season, many people must travel on business, and to visit their loved ones. Safety first must be the philosophy for these trips. While preparing for a trip during cold weather one should prepare for a rough trip and not an easy one. Assume that you will be delayed for a while either because of a sudden storm or a traffic jam. Keep your tank full of gas so you can idle the engine and keep the heater running for an extended period of time. Pack plenty of warm clothing including sleeping bags to stay warm for an extended period of time.

Many people do the opposite, assume everything will go smoothly, and are not protected from the cold weather. I am reminded of a true story in northeastern Pennsylvania. A traveling salesman went on a long trip on Route 81. He dressed sharply with an impressive suit and fancy shoes. He did not bother to pack an overcoat or a winter coat and did not bother to fill his tank with gas. He had all he needed for an easy uneventful trip. On the way home he got stuck in an unexpected snow storm and wound up stranded on the highway. He ran out of gas, could not idle his engine and keep his heater running, and he did not a have any warm clothes to put on. He could have frozen to death or been frost bitten. He survived by staying with a trucker who was prepared for the storm and could keep his heater running and his cabin warm.

As a former overnight cashier at a convenience store, I was amazed at how many people made this same mistake, and came off the highway in desperate need of gas. This was especially true during the Holiday Season when we were the only gas station open.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Winter-Driving-Hazards&id=3616723


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