Over 200,000 motor vehicle collisions a year occur in wintry conditions, and about 1,300 people are killed in car crashes on snowy or icy roads every year. Another 76,000 people are injured in traffic accidents during snowfall.
For commercial drivers, winter can sometimes pose dangerous and even deadly conditions. Now is a good time to remind your drivers of strategies to remain safe behind the wheel when faced with snow, sleet and frigid temperatures.
Experts recommend the following steps before hitting the road:
Gather Weather and Road Info
Information is your ally. Drivers should check the forecast as well as the roads on their route to have some idea as to what to expect. It’s always best to know if a storm is coming, so you can prepare in advance.
Check Your Tires
Double check to make sure your tires are in good shape. In snowy and icy conditions, good traction is your best friend. Make sure your tires have the appropriate tread depth and are inflated to proper pressure.
Remove Snow and Ice
A vehicle covered in snow is a hazard to the driver as well as other roadway users. Drivers should take the time to clear snow and ice off the windows, roof, lights and license plates, You’ll have better visibility and also prevent snow from blowing onto other vehicles which can pose a significant danger on the road.
Once on the road, drivers should do the following:
In adverse weather, the handling capabilities of any vehicle are greatly reduced. That’s why it is critical to slow down; now is the time to be prudent. The slower you go, the more time you have to react to dangerous skids or sudden whiteouts in a blizzard.
Increase Following Distance
in wintry weather conditions experts recommend two-times the normal following distance. Once again, this gives the driver more reaction time should something unexpected happen on a slick road.
Drive in the Tracks of Others
In snow, it can be helpful to drive in the tire tracks of the vehicle ahead. The path has already been cleared, and while still slick, it may be a bit less slippery than fresh snowfall.
If there is precipitation of any kind — sleet, hail, or snow — drivers should turn on the headlights for increased visibility.
Winter weather means it's easy to slip and slide if you’re not intently focused on the road. Avoid cell phones, radios, navigation systems and eating, and you’ll be in a far better position to maintain control of your vehicle and stay safe.