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Safe Driving Tips for Winter on Pennsylvania Roads

Cars in a wooded area driving on snowy roads

Each year, thousands of Pennsylvania residents suffer property damage and serious injuries because of auto accidents caused by winter weather. More often than not, these weather-related crashes are preventable and are caused by driver inexperience more than anything else. To help Pennsylvania drivers stay prepared for bad weather, we’ve put together these tips for driving safely in winter.

Slow Down

Snow and ice make it difficult for a car’s wheels to maintain traction and stick to the road. The faster a vehicle is going on roads covered in rain or snow, the more the tires kick up water. If the tires are overwhelmed by slush, they lose their grip on the pavement, causing the vehicle to hydroplane.

The best way to prevent hydroplaning is to slow down. In general, speeds under 35 MPH have a much lower risk of drifting. On icy or unplowed highways, it’s recommended that you travel 5-10 miles under the speed limit to maintain control of your vehicle.

Know Your Brakes

If you start drifting, your first instinct may be to slam the brakes and come to a stop. More likely than not, this will cause your wheels to lock, meaning the vehicle will not respond to your steering wheel. Instead, you need to maintain good braking discipline.

How you brake on snow depends on your vehicle. If you’re driving an older car, conventional wisdom says to rapidly tap the brakes. This will prevent your wheels from locking and will allow you to maintain control of your vehicle until you come to a safe stop.

However, most modern vehicles have anti-lock braking systems (ABS). If you have ABS, your car will automatically tap the brakes whenever it detects skidding. If you sense your car is skidding and you have ABS, put your foot on the brakes and maintain constant pressure, not pushing down harder or letting up, until you regain control. You’ll know it’s working if the ABS light appears on your dashboard.

Turn With the Drift

If your wheels have locked or you find yourself fishtailing across the road, you need to maintain a level head and think quickly. Instinct may tell you to turn away from drift to avoid the crash, but that won’t help you regain control of the vehicle.

If you start drifting, you should rapidly tap the brakes and gently turn into the drift. Gently is the keyword here; if you turn too quickly, you could cause a spinout. By following these steps, you have a better chance of regaining control of your vehicle and pulling out of the drift.

If you suffered serious injuries in a winter car crash, we can help. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Luzerne County car accident attorney from Slusser Law Firm, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (570) 405-9953 or send us an email.