Avoid accidents by preparing for Utah’s severe winter weather driving

Winter weather brings several outdoor pleasures. Building snow angels, skiing, snowball fights and sledding are some of the fantastic pastimes of a cooler climate. However, the snowy season also comes equipped with dangerous driving conditions.

For example, a winter storm moved across Utah causing several accidents during the holidays. According to the Utah Highway Patrol, there were 47 accidents in Utah County from midnight to 5 p.m. on December 25, 2012.

As road conditions worsen throughout the months of January and February, local authorities recommend that you pay attention to your surroundings and slow down when driving. However, in addition to safe driving habits, you should take the time to "winter proof" your vehicle. Prepping your car for harsh weather can help reduce your chances of an accident.

How to "winter proof" your vehicle

Before you venture out into sub-zero conditions, you should purchase functioning wiper blades for your windshield to ensure that your driving visibility is clear. Also, make sure that your windshield-cleaning system is operating and equipped with washer fluid created for cold weather driving. This is especially important if a truck passes you. Larger vehicles tend to project greater road debris onto other windshields, making visibility poor.

Proper maintenance also means confirming that tires and braking systems are in good shape. If your tires are getting smooth and there is not a lot of tread, they probably do not have good traction. Furthermore, if you have a vehicle with all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive or anti-lock brake systems, you should make sure those features are working; they will help you slow down if you are sliding. Tire chains or cables are also helpful when traveling in lower speeds on steep, icy areas.

It is also a good idea to store 100 or 200 pounds of extra weight in the trunk of rear-wheel drive vehicles. This creates better traction on back wheels. You should keep shovels, tow straps and road flares in your vehicle throughout the winter in case the car is stuck or stranded.

In the event that you do get into a car accident, try to keep a safe distance from your vehicle until assistance arrives. Removing yourself from an accident scene will ensure that traffic does not strike you. Finally, if you are unsure about potential weather conditions, look to your local media stations for information on road conditions.

Just because you follow safe winter driving practices, this does not mean that all motorists do the same. Some drivers are not cautious while driving and improperly maintain their cars during the colder season. Such carelessness can lead to a serious car accident. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle car accident, contact an experienced personal injury law attorney.