Winter weather has been particularly capricious this year -- at times skipping the northern states and hitting the western and southern states instead. Lately, states as far west as Missouri and Kansas and states as far south as Virginia and North Carolina have seen large amounts of ice and snow.
All that white stuff on the ground makes driving treacherous -- especially for drivers who aren't used to dealing with snow and ice on the ground. Many municipalities in the southern states, in particular, are unprepared to deal with winter weather.
Here's what you should do if you're suddenly faced with winter roads:
- When possible, stay home. It's simply safest. If you have advance warning of the storm, get out and get groceries and medication ahead of time. If you can cancel appointments or work remotely from home, do it.
- Make sure your tires are in good condition. This is something that's a must for all bad-weather driving. A good tread on your tires is the No. 1 thing that will help you stay safe on winter roads.
- Don't think four-wheel drive makes you invincible in the snow. It doesn't. While it can help you get through the snow a little easier, it doesn't make you that much safer, so don't keep driving as if you were on dry roads.
- Improve your visibility. This means that you need to both see and be seen by others. Before you set out, make sure your car is clear of snow and ice, your windshield wipers work and you have plenty of washer fluid on hand. Check to make sure your headlights and rear lights are unobstructed and working. Turn them on, even in daylight.
- Finally, slow down. This is the No. 1 thing you can do in winter weather to protect yourself. There's absolutely no way to learn the skill of handling a car that's started to fishtail or spin out on the snow if you don't have to deal with it on a regular basis. You're far better off focusing on preventing the problem.
Unfortunately, even if you take all the necessary precautions to drive safely in the snow, there's bound to be some other drivers out there that won't. They'll speed along as if they were on dry ground no matter what the weather. If you end up in a car accident, talk to an attorney about your rights.