DRIVING SAFELY IN HARSH WINTER WEATHER

This week, the State of Tennessee has seen some dangerous winter weather. Studies show that almost twenty-five percent of weather-related vehicle collisions happen during snow and ice storms. When the weather is at its worst during the winter months, the best practice is to stay home unless there is an emergency. If you do have to get out, please remember these safety tips when you drive in inclement winter weather:

1) Be alert whenever you drive in winter weather - While this may seem like a given, it is important to make sure that before you set out in the snow, you are alert not just for the safety of yourself, but also for the safety of others. You need to be focused and awake so that you have the best reaction time to other cars on the road that may lose control.

2) Remove snow & ice from your car - Before you leave your house, it is important that you use a scraper or other tool to get all excess snow and ice from all outer areas of your car. Additionally, make sure to remove snow and ice from the areas of your car where the signals and lights are located so that other drivers have the best visibility of your vehicle.

3) Make sure your car is properly and regularly maintained - It is important to do this in all kinds of weather, but especially so in inclement weather. Regular vehicle maintenance cuts down on some possibilities of you getting stranded while you are out. Make sure you get your car's oil changed regularly, and that your tires are always properly inflated before getting out in the snow, as colder temperatures tend to lower tire pressure.

4) Be familiar with your designated vehicle before driving in inclement conditions - In a winter storm, do not drive a car that you are unfamiliar with or one that makes you uncomfortable, unless that is your only option and it is an emergency. Be especially familiar with your car's brakes, as locked wheels can cause your car to skid or lose control. Always apply firm, constant pressure when using brakes if you have a car that does not have antilock brakes. If your car does have antilock brakes, push the brake pedal firmly and keep it held down. As you do this, it is important to recall that it is normal for antilock brakes to then vibrate and pulse against your foot - do not ever pump the pedal at this point, or remove your foot from the brake.

5) Increase your travel time & reduce your speed on the road - Give yourself extra time to get to your final destination, and leave early if you have to be at a certain place at a certain time. Always ensure you adjust your speed to changing weather conditions. Even if you feel like you are driving safely, it is best practice to drive slower than you normally would to give yourself plentiful reaction time in case you are close to a vehicle that has lost control. Additionally, always accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid sliding on the ice or snow - especially remember to do this at intersections, traffic lights and stop signs. Never apply more gas than what is necessary in acceleration, as this just causes your wheels to spin and could possibly make you lose control. If possible, use lower gears to maintain as much traction with the road as possible.

6) Never use cruise control in winter weather - In case you lose control, or another car around you loses control, you want to be able to react as quickly as possible to maintain your safety and the safety of others. The cruise control option should never be used whenever the weather is icy, snowy, or rainy.

7) Be especially cautious on overpasses & bridges - Whenever there is harsh winter weather, these are the areas that will freeze first, and are most likely the areas that will remain frozen throughout the duration of the storm. If possible, use a different route, and avoid all bridges and overpasses during this kind of weather.

If you have experienced a car collision as a result of winter weather, or have suffered bodily or property damage as a result of a collision in inclement weather, please call (865) 999-0101 for your free consultation with the law office of Cantrell, Goodge & Associate.

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