Commuting in winter weather poses an increased risk to driver safety.
The National Weather Service reports that each year, on average, 5,000 people are killed and more than 418,000 are injured due to weather-related vehicle crashes. Rain and snow require drivers to take extra precautions to ensure a safe arrival to your destination.
Before you head out on the road in these conditions, make sure to follow these winter driving safety tips to help keep you safe:
• Drive slowly: Most winter accidents are a result of driving too fast for the current conditions. Remember to slow down on the roads and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
• Don’t tailgate: Be sure to leave at least three car lengths in between you and the driver ahead of you during icy or snowy weather conditions. It takes a longer distance to stop your vehicle on winter roads.
• Turn on your headlights: Visibility is greatly hindered in rain, fog, ice, or snow storms, so remember to turn on your low beams when in these conditions so other drivers can see you, even during daylight.
• Avoid distracted or drowsy driving: Limit your distractions while driving in poor weather conditions. Keep your awareness on the road. Never drive when tired and leave the cell phone alone.
• Make sure you can see out of all windows: Give yourself extra time before you drive to make sure your windows are defrosted and scraped clean of any ice that is obstructing your vision and ability to be an alert driver.
• Check the roadways and traffic ahead of time: Winter conditions can be somewhat unpredictable so it’s important to check the roadways and traffic before you head out in order to give yourself enough time to safely arrive at your destination. Speeding in poor weather conditions puts other drivers and emergency responders at risk. Check highway conditions at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi
• Slow down at the first sign of rain, especially after a dry spell: This is when many roads are the most slippery, because oil and dust have not washed away. A slippery road will not give your tires the grip they need. Drive more slowly than you would on a dry road. Adjust your speed as follows:
-- Wet road: go 5 to 10 mph slower
-- Packed snow: reduce your speed by half
-- Ice: slow to a crawl
• Prepare your vehicle: Make sure all fluid levels are full and ensure that the lights, heater and windshield wipers are in proper condition. Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
• Avoid traveling alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.
San Bernardino County Fire reminds you to be prepared for a disaster with the free Ready SB County Disaster Preparedness App. During an emergency, you’ll stay up-to date on evacuations, shelter locations, traffic alerts, and emergency resources available in your area.
Download the Ready SB County Disaster Preparedness App at:
(Tracey Martinez is the public information officer for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.)