snowy-driving-imageRecently, wintry weather moved across Texas, causing numerous accidents, some of them fatal. Some think we’re in for a tough winter. For that reason, it’s important that everyone revisit basic tips for winter driving.

Holiday travel peaks during November and December. People are going to holiday parties, visiting family and friends, and heading to the mall at all hours of the day. When you pair the increase in traffic with bad weather, it’s a perfect storm for auto accidents.

The risk of collisions is especially high when people are not used to traveling on ice or snow. Snow and ice storms are rare enough in Houston that we fall out of practice.

1: Stay home when the weather is bad.

When the roads are bad, stay put. If you don’t have to go out in a winter storm, don’t. Fewer cars mean fewer accidents, so by staying home you are helping others stay safe as well. If the children don’t have school because of weather conditions, it’s a good sign the roads may be slick. If schools are delayed to give the roads time to dry, consider postponing your trip, too.

2: Be prepared.

Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a winter storm to get your car ready for winter. Do it now. Make sure your vehicle is in working order, the coolant system is working properly, and you have good tires. Check hoses for wear and cracks and make certain your battery will last the season. The last thing you want is to be stranded during bad weather conditions.

3: Pack an emergency kit.

Part of preparing for bad weather is packing an emergency kit in your trunk. Include things like: a blanket, water, jumper cables, nonperishable snacks, an ice scraper, flares, batteries, a flashlight, and tools for changing a tire.

4: Prepare for slippery conditions.

Driving on the ice is nothing like driving on dry pavement. Remember to leave more space for stopping and turning. Also, if you begin to slide, turn your steering wheel in the direction you want to travel. In other words, if your rear tires start turning to the right, turn the steering wheel right to regain balance. Start and stop slowly, and don’t stop on a hill if you can help it. Finally, never give into distractions when driving in bad conditions. Phone calls, text messages, and retouching your makeup can all wait.

5: In the event of an accident, act responsibly.

When an accident happens on an icy road, the risk of further crashes is very real. One collision can result in several cars piling up as they all hit the same icy spot. Be prepared for follow-up crashes by moving to the side of the road until emergency vehicles respond.