Severe weather and snow can prove treacherous for drivers during the winter months. Every year there is an average of 500,000 motor vehicles accidents due to snowy and icy weather. Over 150,000 injuries and nearly 2,000 fatalities are reported annually from driving in these conditions. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Trauma Division wants all motorists to have a basic understanding of how to practice proper safety while driving in wintry conditions.
The best tip to avoid getting into an accident during inclement weather is to avoid driving and stay home. To elude getting caught in a storm, be sure to watch weather reports for both your location as well as your destination in an effort to delay or reschedule unnecessary long trips. If however you must venture out, take the appropriate precautions and make sure you are properly prepared.
Many safety precautions can be made before you even start your car. These tips include:
• Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
• Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a licensed mechanic.
• Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Also make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow or ice
• Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
• Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
• Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
• Pack the necessary safety items such as cellular telephone, extra blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle in case you get stuck for an extended period of time
Once you are in your vehicle and on the road, it is important to be extra cautious and follow these basic instructions for driving in a winter storm:
• Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight.
• Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, and turning all take longer on wet surfaces than on dry pavement.
• Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface.
• Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
• Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of effort it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling.
• When going uphill, avoid applying your brakes or attempting to accelerate. Attempting to accelerate after braking places extra pressure on your tires and will cause your wheels to spin in place.
Jamaica Hospital’s Trauma Division treats an increased amount of motorists during winter storms. It is our goal to have you avoid unnecessary accidents by practicing safe driving this winter.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.