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Winter driving hazards and how to stay safe

Winter driving hazards and how to stay safe
On Behalf of Hoy Law
December 11, 2022

Winter has arrived in South Dakota, and with it will come treacherous driving conditions. Snow and ice can make roads more slippery than they seem at first glance, and more hours of darkness can lead to reduced visibility during a time when many motorists are still on the road.

Wintertime semi truck traffic on I-29 and I-90 remains heavy, yet not all truck drivers drive appropriately for weather and road conditions. It is not uncommon to see jack-knifed semi trucks on roads and in ditches in the winter months.

This means that you’ll need to be defensive while out on the road and stick to some helpful tips pertaining to safe winter driving.

The dangers of winter driving

Although ice and snow can make even the most well-maintained roads dangerous, there are other risks posed by winter weather. Let’s look at some of them:

  • Low tire pressure, which is oftentimes caused by cold temperatures. This can reduce your traction on the road, thereby leading to a devastating accident if you’re not careful.
  • Poor visibility caused not only by reduced light, but also by snow, rain, and ice that’s falling or is on the road. You may even have snow and ice on your car that blocks your view to a significant degree.
  • Black ice, which may not be easily visible while you’re driving. These patches can take you by surprise, causing you to slide.
  • Blowing snow, which again may reduce visibility and traction. Additionally, extremely slippery driving conditions can develop after blowing snow passes over warmer pavement and refreezes.

There may be other hazards on the road when you’re driving during winter weather, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking precautions to protect yourself.

How to stay safe when driving in winter weather

Even the most cautious driver cannot control the actions of other drivers. While other motorists may not drive appropriately in winter weather, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself:

  • Distance: Keeping an increased amount of distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you so that you can avoid a rear-end collision in the event that you slip on a patch of ice or snow.
  • Know how to brake and accelerate on ice: Avoiding pressing the brake or accelerating too quickly, as doing so could increase the risk of your vehicle slipping on the road and sliding out of control.
  • Removing snow from car: Cleaning your car off before taking it out on the road so that you can maximize your visibility and reduce the chances that snow and ice will blow off your vehicle and impact another motorist’s driving capabilities.
  • Allowing for more time: Being patient when driving in wintery conditions so that you don’t make abrupt vehicle movements that may cause you to lose control.
  • Driving slower: Avoiding being overconfident in your driving actions and knowing that it’s okay to take your time and drive at a speed that you’re comfortable with, even if it’s significantly slower than the posted speed limit.
  • Checking tires: Checking your tires to ensure that you have sufficient tread depth and inflation. By doing this, you give yourself a better shot of adequately gripping the road while you travel.
  • Being aware of your surroundings: Although you should do this any time that you drive, you should be especially cognizant of your surroundings when driving in winter weather. After all, you need to be as defensive as possible when driving in these dangerous conditions.

A legal professional is here if you need one

We hope that you’re able to stay safe out there this winter, but if something happens and you find yourself involved in a car or truck accident in South Dakota, then please know that our legal professionals are here to help you navigate whatever challenges you might be facing.

Winter driving hazards and how to stay safe
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