Utah is famous for The Greatest Snow on Earth. While that is great for skiers and snowboarders, it can be dangerous for drivers and pedestrians. In 2016, inclement weather accounted for nearly 10 percent of all crashes, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
As winter approaches, drivers need to prepare for treacherous conditions that will affect Utah roads this season by following these seven tips.
1. Prepare your car for winter
Before the first snow falls, take the time to prep your car for winter and conduct a comprehensive safety check. This includes:
- Inspecting your windshield wipers: Windshield wipers are essential in the rain and snow, and if not working properly, can cause visibility issues. Replace your windshield wipers every 6-12 months to ensure they work properly this winter. Also, make sure to top off the windshield wiper fluid, regularly.
- Topping off the antifreeze: As the weather gets colder, youll want to check your engine coolant and make sure its set for freezing temperatures.
- Testing defrosters: Take your car in for a routine maintenance check and make sure the defrosters work properly.
- Checking tires: Because winter roads are slick and icy, make sure your tires have sufficient tread and tire pressure so they wont slip and slide. You may also consider putting on winter tires for the season.
- Checking lights: Its darker earlier in the afternoon, so make sure all your car lights work this weather. Being visible is an easy way to stay safe and to avoid an accident when driving, so its smart to always keep your lights on.
It's also smart to stock your car with winter emergency essentials like an ice scraper, jumper cables, battery charger, jack and lug wrench, snow chains, ice melt, flashlight, blanket, first-aid kit and a small shovel. You may also consider keeping some snacks and water bottles in your car in case you are stuck for an extended period.
2. Always clear the exterior of your car before driving
Although it takes time and energy to wipe the snow and frost off your car, it's an essential safety measure. Snow and ice on the car is dangerous for yourself and others. Make sure to brush all the snow off your roof, hood, windows and mirrors before hitting the road.
3. Dont text and drive
It may seem obvious, but never text and drive, regardless of the weather conditions. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of deaths, according to the Utah Fatal Crash Summary for 2016. Campaigns like End Text Wrecks aim to raise awareness of the issue and get people commit to stop texting and driving. As winter weather approaches and road conditions worsen, pledge to stop texting or making calls when on the road.
4. Listen to the road and keep your distance
When driving in the winter, it's especially important to minimize distractions and sounds in the car. Turn off the radio, put your cellphone down, and withhold from conversations while driving. This allows you to listen to what's going on inside and outside your car. When driving on snow, you'll hear loud noises as the snow is being kicked up on the road. If the noise stops, it's an indicator that you've started driving on black ice. If that's the case, don't slam on your brakes. Stay calm, don't speed and get to dry road when you can.
If you slam on your breaks on an icy road, you'll likely slide and rear-end someone, so don't drive too close to other drivers. As a general rule, keep three to four car lengths between you and the next car on the road to avoid an accident.
5. Know the road conditions before any drive
Before you get in your car this winter, check the weather for road conditions. If a storm is coming, avoid driving, if possible. If you need to be on the road during a storm, know that bridges, overpasses and ramps tend to freeze first. Adjust your speed accordingly to stay safe.
6. Keep your gas tank full
Snowy weather means reduced speeds, more traffic and unknown roadside conditions. As such, you'll want to keep your gas tank at least half full in the winter. You don't want to be stuck in a blizzard and run out of gas.
7. Dont worry what other drivers are doing
When driving, its easy to speed up and try to pass other drivers on the road. In the winter, safety should come before speed. Dont worry if you are driving slower than the speed limit if conditions are bad. Take advantage of the slow lane, and let other people pass you instead of speeding up. Your safety should be top priority, and its OK to drive slow in winter conditions.
To avoid a weather-related driving accident this year, consider these seven tips before getting in the car and driving anywhere this winter.