According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 440 fatal crashes, and an estimated 33,000 injury crashes occurred due to winter conditions in 2019. In this article, our skilled car accident lawyers at Kalfus & Nachman are providing tips for safe winter weather driving in Virginia to help avoid a winter-road auto accident.
Virginia Winter Weather - Avoid Travel during Winter Storms
Virginia is one of the snowy states in the United States. It receives 14 inches of snow annually, which is about half of the US average of 28 inches of snow per year. On average, Virginia receives precipitation 115 days per year. Significant snowfall occurs for four months in Virginia. And with nearly five inches of snowfall, January is the snowiest month of the year.
Compared to Coastal Virginia, Central Virginia and the Mountains get higher snowfall. The City of Roanoke and Lynchburg in Southwest Virginia receives 43 inches of average yearly precipitation.
The most terrifying and hazardous thing to witness is being stalled in your vehicle for hours in a snowstorm. Hundreds of people were stuck overnight on Interstate 95 in Virginia on Jan. 3, and it was a terrifying experience. Due to a fast-falling snowfall, drivers and passengers were trapped for 24 hours along a 40-mile stretch of the roadway. A well-stocked winter driving kit that includes blankets, flares, jumper cables, food, water, an ice scraper, and a flashlight at the very least helps to handle any emergency if you're stuck on the highway during a winter storm. Read the linked article about how traffic was snarled on the I-95.
If a winter storm traps you in your car, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Stay in the car. Avoid over-exertion and cold exposure.
- Make yourself visible. Turn on the interior dome light and tie bright markers on the antenna or windows.
- Run engine at 10-minute intervals to keep warm.
- When running the engine, slightly open a window for ventilation to protect yourself from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure you're not wasting any battery power. Balance electrical electricity needs with supply, such as lighting, heating, and listening to the radio.
In order to drive more safely in winter weather, it is best to know the current road conditions and the latest weather forecast before beginning any trip. And if there is any winter storm warning, better avoid any travel and stay indoors.
Preparing your car for cold winters in Virginia
Preparing your car for winter weather driving in Virginia is extremely important. Winterizing your vehicle may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but it helps you avoid any unpleasant or dangerous situation while traveling in frigid weather. Kalfus & Nachman recommend inspecting all of your vehicle's systems before hitting the road. Check following:
- Brakes: Winter weather driving puts much strain on your brakes, and you'll need them to be in good shape to keep safe on the season's slick roads.
- Car's Electrical System: Check your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and interior lights; all are correctly functioning. Test your car battery and replace or recharge if it is weak.
- Windshield Wipers: Driving with frosted windows is a nightmare. Ensure defrosters, heating system, and all windshield wipers are working and replace any worn blades. Also, keep the windshield wiper fluid reservoir full.
- Cooling System: Check for leaks in the cooling system. Do a coolant test, and if required, drain or replace the old coolant.
- Exhaust System: Check for any obstructions or faults in your exhaust system. Carbon monoxide poisoning is at its worst during the winter, thanks to sealed windows trapping the gas from faulty exhaust systems.
- Tires: Check tires and tire pressure. Tires with uneven wear or insufficient tread should be replaced. If you plan to use studded snow tires, have them installed correctly.
- Gas Tank: To avoid a gas line freeze, keep your gas tank as close to full whenever possible. Also, for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, keep the battery temperature in the optimal ranges by plugging them in at night during the winter.
- Emergency Winter Kit: Keep an emergency winter driving kit in your vehicle. Include flashlights, jumper cables, blanket or quilts, water, non-perishable food, ice scraper, shovel, sand or kitty litter, and a first aid kit.
What To Do If You Have Hit Black Ice in Virginia
Winter weather driving in Virginia isn't just about coping with snow; ice on the road is a severe hazard too. Driving on black ice is one of winter's most dangerous hazards to motorists. Black ice is a glaze formed on the road surface due to light freezing rain or snow, water, or ice melting and re-freezing. Be watchful of early morning and evening as they are the most common times for black ice. If the black ice causes you to lose control of your vehicle, here's what you should do:
- Don't panic and slow down.
- Keep your seatbelt on all time.
- Do not hit the brake's paddle.
- Avoid using cruise control.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
- Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
- Raise the following distance to 8 to 10 seconds.
- Keep the steering wheel straight. If required, steer in the direction of a skid.
Winter Weather Accident Attorneys in Virginia
Kalfus & Nachman urge motorists to avoid risky driving behaviors and be cautious while driving in winter weather in Virginia. If you or a loved one have been injured by a careless driver in a winter weather accident, proving negligence can be complicated. Your best course of action is to consult an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible and review your legal options. Our professional legal team is on your side to ensure you receive the maximum deserving compensation. Call us for a free consultation today at 855-880-8163