Winter driving can be treacherous and dangerous, it can slow travel times, and it can be more of a chore than a pleasure, but if you are prepared for it, you will have a much easier time navigating the cold, snowy, and slushy part of the calendar.
Be smart. Expect delays, and allow more time to arrive at your destination in time.
Look for other drivers and pedestrians, especially those who do not seem as in control of their vehicles as you would hope.
If you live in an urban area especially, be alert to cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists in Chicago often ride their bikes to and from work (or for pleasure) nearly year-round. You cannot assume that there will be no bikes next to you, behind you, or in front of you just because you think it’s ridiculous to ride a bike in 5 degrees Fahrenheit and snow!
Allow more time to slow and stop, and do not assume your vehicle will corner precisely. Slipping and sliding must be expected and factored in to your decision-making.
Get a tune up, have your tires checked for wear and proper inflation, have your battery tested and replaced if necessary, and be sure your belts are replaced if they are worn or brittle. The last thing you need on that desolate highway drive is a broken fan belt, made all the more brittle by the cold weather.
Be sure to keep a full tank of gas at all times. Cars start much better with more gas and this limits the possibility you can be stranded without enough gasoline to make it through a long traffic jam delay.
Carry a set of roadside emergency flares in your trunk.
Leave a heavy blanket in your trunk just in case you are stranded for a long time before help arrives. Remember to bring a heavy coat, hat, and gloves on every trip even if you are “going straight from the car” to your destination. You never know when something will put a wrench in those plans.
It is always a great idea to carry a tire pump that hooks up to your electrical system of your vehicle. They can be hooked up the cigarette lighter on your car and used to inflate a tire. It may be enough to get you to a safe place in the event of a flat.
Make certain your cell phone is charged up, and that you also keep a car charger in the vehicle. A phone may be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency.
As you recall from the past blog on “What to Do In the Event of An Accident,” you should be prepared just in case you are involved in one.
Call 911. There are some instances when police will not come to the scene and require you to drive to the station if cars are drivable and no one is injured seriously, but always call first.
If the police do come, make a very factual matter-of-fact report of what happened, how you feel, and what you know. Don’t speculate, volunteer information, or get angry.
If the police will not come to the scene, talk to the other driver to obtain the name and policy number of their insurance carrier. But do not discuss anything else with them. Then go to the police station and complete a report immediately if you are not seriously hurt.
Any discussion with the other driver at the scene is always a bad idea. First of all, you will probably not be thinking clearly, especially if you are injured. If you were predominantly at fault, you may say something that could be construed as an admission. If the other driver was at fault, you may say something that inadvertently admits to some fault of your own. You may also fail to mention your injuries completely. There are dozens of things that can go wrong from talking with the other driver(s). Just don’t.
Carry your auto insurance card with you at all times AND keep a copy in the glove compartment or center console.
Be certain your insurance is paid up, and that the limits of liability are as high as possible.
If you have a younger driver in your household, talk to them about these must haves! Many teens tend to eschew things like common sense, coats, hats, or anything their parents want them to do. While you do want them to learn themselves from their mistakes, it is also important that they follow certain rules when using one of your vehicles. Be sure they understand the importance of having these things and check up on them. This is not micromanaging; it is teaching responsibility.
If you have the misfortune to be involved in a crash, contact a lawyer immediately.
As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a personal injury lawyer.
If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He has been named a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.
Stephen handles personal injury and workers' compensation claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.