A responsible driver knows that exercising caution while operating a vehicle is critical for maintaining a safe roadway and avoiding auto accidents. During the winter months, it is crucial to take additional precautionary measures that optimize the chance of driving without incident. Proper maintenance of the vehicle, planning ahead, and obeying traffic laws play key roles in safe winter travel and responsible driving.

Vehicle Maintenance

For a vehicle to be prepared for safe driving, it needs to be well maintained. Routine oil and tire checks, for example, serve to optimize vehicle performance and minimize the chance for mechanical complications during operation. A qualified mechanic should perform these and other periodic assessments to ensure that the vehicle is in the safest condition for being on the road. In addition to optimal performance, a prepared vehicle will have a cellphone, maps, bottled water, food, clothing, blankets, and basic medical supplies stowed away, allowing for quick access to important items during an emergency situation.

Driver Preparedness

Drivers need to be aware of and prepared for the interference of winter weather and the additional risks associated with operating a vehicle under such circumstances. Regardless of the duration of travel time, the driver can plan ahead to avoid potential problems while driving during winter months. Fatigue is a serious danger to motorists and their passengers no matter what season the travel takes place. Abstaining from alcohol or medications that cause drowsiness and getting adequate sleep the night before greatly reduces the chance that fatigue will interfere with the driver’s ability to drive successfully. Weather forecasts provide an indication of expected precipitation that could make travel challenging. Driving in snow will ultimately require more time than a clear roadway. Thus, ample time should be allotted for safe stops, turns and accelerating.

Duty of Reasonable Care

Drivers have a legal obligation to practice reasonable care while driving, including obeying general traffic laws and abstaining from neglectful or malicious behavior that could result in harm to someone else. Winter weather can present driving conditions that amplify the need to exercise caution. Avoiding full stops and abrupt speed changes when possible can help to maintain traction on snowy or icy roads. A safe distance should also be maintained between vehicles to minimize the chance of collisions in the event that stopping is difficult. Distracted driving could be catastrophic in these conditions. Attentiveness is essential, particularly when dealing with the actions of other vehicles.

The Bottom Line

The objective of reasonable driving is to keep roadways safe for motorists and their passengers. Snow and ice warrant the additional time it takes to ensure that the vehicle and driver are adequately prepared for anticipated and unexpected road conditions. Emphasizing caution during the winter months will not guarantee that travel will be free from incident or harm, but it improves the chances of arriving safely at the destination and promoting responsible driving.

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If you or someone you love has suffered from a car accident, an attorney at Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo can inform you of your legal rights and work to help you seek the compensation to which you may be entitled. Call (888) 675-7607 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation or fill out the online contact form for a response within 24 hours.