Language:

How to Drive in the Snow in North Carolina (And Other Safety Tips for Wintry Road Conditions)

Nick says there could be up to six inches of snow the first weekend in January 2017. When the weatherman utters the S word, area neighbors look to Nick. He hasn’t been wrong in years.

By the way, Nick is 12. And he’s gotten it right every time since the ripe old age of 9. (We don’t know how he does it!)

One thing Nick cannot tell us though is how to manage a two-ton vehicle as it is sliding sideways into another two-ton vehicle. Nick thinks that’s cool. We don’t.

There’s a reason North Carolina’s schools and businesses close at even the tiniest hint of snow in the forecast! With NC’s topsy-turvy weather, snow often melts and refreezes, turning roads into ice-skating ponds that even our northern transplant drivers have trouble navigating.

And even if you’re as experienced in winter-weather driving as Santa, keep in mind that may not be true for everyone else on the road. Here are some guidelines to go by when driving in winter weather.

Don’t Underestimate Freezing Temperatures and Roads

Think…

  • Is my trip so urgent that I need to put myself and others in potential jeopardy?
  • Is my car prepared to handle the conditions I may face on the roads?
  • Is there another way for me to handle the task, or can I wait until conditions improve?
Tips on how to prepare your car for winter driving.
Click for a larger version

Preparing for Driving in the Snow

If you decide to travel out into the winter weather, the best way to keep yourself out of harm’s way is to prepare yourself and your vehicle as best as possible.

  • Check weather conditions in advance.
  • Have communication Charge your cell phone in case you need to communicate with authorities or others (but don’t communicate while driving). Let your friends and family know you will be going out and let them know when to expect you. Fill up your gas tank.
  • Test your heating and defrost Have your battery and antifreeze levels checked and don’t forget to fill your windshield wiper levels. All that roadway salt and sand can obscure your vision quickly and often.
  • Check your brakes and make sure your tire pressure is inflated according to what the owner’s manual suggests for driving in snow.
  • Check tire tread depth. Tires.com suggests you should have at least 5/32 of an inch tread to maintain good mobility on snowy roads. To easily check to see how much tread you have, place a quarter into several tread grooves across the tire. If part of Washington’s head is covered by the tread, you have more than 4/32″ of tread depth remaining.
  • Keep a winter emergency supply kit in your car. This can include a variety of things, from a blanket and gloves to a flashlight and batteries, or a candle to keep warm in case you get stranded, and cat litter, sand, or salt in case you get stuck. Here’s a list of other potential items.

Driving Safely in Snow and Ice

  • Excessive speed is the main cause of crashes during winter weather. Maintain a safe distance and drive slower than usual.
  • Clear as much snow and ice from your car as you can. And don’t forget your headlights and tail lights and the roof of your car – you don’t want snow blowing in your windshield or someone else’s.
  • Drive smoothly and avoid sudden accelerating, braking, and turning.
  • Do not use your cruise control.
  • When driving over bridges and overpasses, be particularly careful. They ice up first since they’re not connected to the soil and the ice may be hard to see. Don’t apply brakes while on a bridge. The recent icy rain in Raleigh just a few weeks ago saw most of the accidents on bridges and overpasses.
  • When intersection traffic lights are not working, proceed as a four-way stop.

What to Do if Your Car Skids in Snow

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Don’t brake unless you have to. Then brake gently.
  • Anti-lock brakes: apply steady gentle pressure
  • Standard non-ABS brakes: pump your brake pedal gently
  • Don’t accelerate until your vehicle slows down enough to regain some traction with the road. Then gently accelerate.
  • In general, if you begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Braking will cause you to further lose control of your vehicle.
  • Rear-wheel skids. Turn the steering wheel in the direction your rear wheels are headed.
  • Front-wheel skids. Shift into neutral and don’t try to steer immediately. When your vehicle begins to slow down, steer in the direction that you want your vehicle to go. Then, put the vehicle into gear and gently accelerate.

What to Do If Your Car Gets Stuck in the Snow

  • Pushing the gas pedal and spinning your tires will only dig you in deeper. Turn them from side to side to help clear snow, and then turn the steering wheel so the tires are as straight as possible.
  • Use a shovel to clear the snow in front of and behind your tires.
  • Spread cat litter, sand, or salt in the cleared areas around your drive wheels.
  • NCDOT suggests that you might try rocking the vehicle back and forth, but cautions you to check your owner’s manual first; as some vehicle transmissions might be damaged by this. Shift from forward to reverse and back again, using a light touch on the gas pedal. Again, don’t spin your wheels.

AAA offers very thorough tips which build on this information and so does the NCDOT. Click here to access the AAA page and here for NCDOT’s website.

North Carolina Car Wreck Lawyers

If, despite Nick’s prediction, you decide to venture out and you are injured by someone else in a car wreck, contact us.

  • We are one of the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina and have vast resources to draw from.
  • We have recovered over $600 million total for more than 30,000 clients since 1997.1
  • We have more than 150 staff members, including over 35 attorneys.
  • Several of our lawyers have achieved peer- and client-reviewed designations including Best Lawyers Best Lawyers in America 2017 and Lawyer of the Year 2017, Super Lawyers Rising Star 2016, and Super Lawyer 2016.3,4,5,6

See for yourself some of the things clients have to say about us.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From North Carolina Lawyers

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE and let you know if we think we can help.

 

3Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey. Over 52,000 leading attorneys cast more than 5.5 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular acheivement.

4 Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the Lawyer of the Year, making this accolade particularly significant. Lawyers being honored as “Lawyer of the Year” are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the exhaustive peer-review assessments conducted with thousands of leading lawyers each year. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity. For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com.

5 To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. Rising Stars undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state-by-state basis. While up to 5% of the lawyers in any state are named “Super Lawyers,” by Super Lawyers magazine, no more than 2.5% are named to the Rising Stars list. For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com.

6 Super Lawyers undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state-by-state basis. For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com.