Snow and high winds pose threats to Oregon motorists throughout the winter, making safe driving and well-maintained vehicles of greater importance than ever, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Drivers should always keep their front and rear windshields clear, focus exclusively on operating their vehicle, and avoid speeding—but these safety measures are critical as we move deeper into the winter season.
Inadequate surveillance (21 percent), internal distractions (11 percent) and driving too fast for conditions (8 percent) were the top three pre-crash events attributed to drivers, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey found. Inadequate surveillance refers to instances in which a driver failed to look, or looked but did not see, when it was essential to complete safely a vehicle maneuver. Internal distractions refer to situations when a motorist traveled while talking on the phone or text messaging.
In order to avoid a potentially dangerous situation, the I.I.I. offers the following winter driving tips:
- Give yourself enough time to arrive at your destination. Trips can take longer during winter than at other times of the year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads.
- Bring a cellphone so that those awaiting your arrival can get in touch with you if you are very late. But avoid the temptation of using the phone while driving, as it can be a dangerous distraction.
- Drive slowly because accelerating, stopping and turning all take longer on snow-covered roads.
- Leave more distance than usual between your vehicle and the one just ahead of you, giving yourself at least 10 seconds to come to a complete stop. Cars and motorcycles usually need at least three seconds to halt completely when traveling on dry pavement.
- Be careful when driving over bridges, as well as roadways rarely exposed to sunlight—they are often icy when other areas are not.
- Avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
- Be sure to keep your gas tank full. Stormy weather or traffic delays may force you to change routes or turn back. A fuller gas tank also prevents your car’s gas-line from freezing.
- Keep windshield and windows clear. Drivers in cold-weather states should have a snow brush or scraper in their vehicle at all times. Your car’s defroster can be supplemented by wiping the windows with a clean cloth to improve visibility.
- Do not activate your cruise control when driving on a slippery surface.
- Do not warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Keep your tires properly inflated and remember that good tread on your tires is essential to safe winter driving.
- Check your exhaust pipe to make sure it is clear. A blocked pipe could cause a leakage of carbon monoxide gas into your car when the vehicle’s engine is running.
- Monitor the weather conditions at your destination before beginning your trip. If conditions look as though they are going to be too hazardous, just stay home.
Although winter arrived in December, look on the bright side: the days are getting longer and will continue to do so in January and February as spring approaches.