The most obvious winter driving challenge is the changing environment. Make sure you know the importance of being aware of your surroundings and the need to adjust driving based on weather conditions.
While traction issues are a big concern while driving, slips and falls can also account for many injuries. Be aware of the need to have three points of contact when entering or exiting a vehicle, and to always test your footing.
Multitasking while driving is dangerous at the best of times, and it’s especially risky during winter. The more someone multitasks, the greater the risk of a collision. Keep your phone out of your hands, and your eyes on the road.
Fatigue and other human factors
Fatigue is a contributing factor
in a number of road incidents and is much more likely to be an issue in the winter
. When you are feeling fatigued, you will be unable to concentrate for long periods of time, might lose track of your surroundings or worse—fall asleep at the wheel.
Other human factors, like rushing, frustration and complacency, are also likely to be present during the winter months. These can lead to making an error and icy roads or lowered visibility is particularly unforgiving of even small driver slip-ups.
Inspect your vehicle and make sure your vehicle meets maintenance standards. Keep emergency supplies in your car, including a first aid kit, fire extinguishers, jumper cables, roadside flares, and warm blankets.
Getting in the habit of checking simple vehicle components before each road trip does more than monitor the vehicle’s condition and its surroundings—it gets you thinking about safety before heading out. This gives you the opportunity to also think about conditions and human factors, and change how you drive accordingly.
Putting it all together
The important thing to note here is that all of the things mentioned above work together—the vehicle, road conditions and human factors all playing a part and each affecting the other.
In most cases, you can navigate slippery conditions if you have winter or all season tires, are really focused on driving and adjust your speed, stopping distance, etc. It’s when one or more factors are out of sync with the others when accidents happen. You see it a lot at the onset of winter—where people haven’t put their snow tires on yet and haven’t adjusted their driving habits to suit the conditions. There’s almost always a news story in early winter that talks about pile ups on freeways and the number of collisions as a result of the first winter weather.
Slowing down and preparing yourself for traveling by vehicle in the winter could prevent costly mistakes in the future.