Winter Driving Tips for Port Angeles, WA

Winter Driving Tips for Port Angeles, WAIt is winter in Washington, and this means treacherous driving conditions for motorists in the North Olympic Peninsula region and throughout Washington.

The bitterly cold temperatures combined with winter weather can make traveling dangerous. Even if you have lived in Washington your entire life, it is always wise to review tips for safe winter driving as the weather begins to change and road conditions become hazardous for driving.

Winter Driving Tips

You may not be able to control the weather; however, you can take steps to avoid winter accidents.

  • Before leaving your home, clear all snow and ice from your car including the roof, hood, turn signals, headlights, taillights, mirrors, and windows. This improves your visibility and prevents falling snow from your car impeding other drivers.
  • Speed limits are designed for ideal weather conditions. Slow down when road conditions are not ideal to avoid accidents.
  • Keeping your headlights on a low beam will provide better illumination during rain, fog, and snow.
  • Avoid sudden breaking and acceleration to reduce the risk of sliding and hydroplaning.
  • Increasing the distance between your vehicle and other vehicles in front of you can prevent a rear-end collision if traffic suddenly stops.
  • If your vehicle does begin to skid, do not slam on the brakes. Ease your foot off the accelerator, turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the car to go, and straighten the steering wheel when the vehicle is travelling in that direction.
  • Schedule a winter maintenance check-up for your vehicle before the weather causes our roads to become treacherous for driving. Make sure the check-up includes your brakes, lights, battery, radiator, hoses, wipers, and heating and defrost systems. Your mechanic should also check to ensure you do not have leaks in your exhaust system that would allow carbon monoxide to enter your vehicle through the air vents.
  • During the winter, keep your fuel tank full.
  • Check your tires and chains before winter storms to ensure they are in good condition and the chains fit properly. Mechanics and tire shops are going to be extremely busy just before storms; therefore, taking care of this now will save you time and money.
  • Before leaving home, plan your travel route and check local weather and news stations for alerts. Allow extra time to reach your destination so that you do not feel hurried or rushed.
  • Keep your windshield washer fluid full during winter months with a solution that is rated for freezing temperatures.
  • Slow down when approaching bridges and overpasses. Even though the roads may be clear, bridges and overpasses freeze more quickly causing black ice to form.

What Should I Carry in My Car during the Winter?

If you are stranded during the winter, do not panic. Stay in your vehicle and call for help. Planning your route before leaving home will help you know your exact location if you should become stranded. During the winter months, the National Traffic Safety Institute (NTSI) suggests that you have the following items in your vehicle in case of emergency:

  • Snowbrush and ice scraper
  • Extra clothing and footwear (blankets are good too)
  • Non-perishable energy food and bottled water
  • Waterproof matches and candles in a small tin container to hold the candle when it is lit
  • Small tool kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Road flares and warning lights
  • Gas line antifreeze
  • Booster cables
  • Tow rope and chains
  • Shovel
  • Stand or other traction aids

In addition to the above, you may want to consider carrying extra items with you during winter storms that are specific to your needs. For example, if you have a baby, take extra formula, baby food, and bottled water with you when you leave. Warming packs that are activated when you bend the pouch can be helpful for keeping children warm if you are stranded. If you or anyone with you has a medical condition that requires periodic medication, take extra doses with you in case you cannot get back home before the next dose is due.

It is also a good idea to have sand or non-clumping cat litter in your vehicle during the winter. If you are stuck, pouring this on the ground around the tires may give you enough traction to get your vehicle moving again.

Winter Driving and Teens

Teaching your teenage driver to handle winter roads is something we all must face living in the northwest. Anyone without experience driving in treacherous winter conditions should always practice with an experienced driver when roads are less severe than during a major blizzard. Allow your teen driver to practice driving on snow or ice in a large, empty parking lot to feel how the vehicle handles when maneuvering in snow and ice.

Teach your teen driver how to brake and steer if the vehicle begins to skid. Repeatedly practicing these techniques in an open parking lot can help your teen driver avoid panicking when this occurs while driving on the road.

Until your teen driver has gained more experience driving during the winter in Port Angeles, consider limiting his or her driving to daylight hours when visibility is better. Review the safety equipment and items in the vehicle to ensure your teen driver knows how to use the equipment and what to do in an emergency.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at McMenamin & McMenamin, PS

Our attorneys and staff share your desire for safe travels this winter season. Unfortunately, vehicle accidents occur even under the best driving conditions. If you or your family member is injured in a vehicle accident in the North Olympic Peninsula region, contact our office for a free consultation. Our friendly staff and dedicated personal injury attorneys are here to help you as you struggle to recover from your injuries and deal with the financial burden of being injured in a car accident.

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