During the winter months Rhode Island is no stranger to snow. The data from bestplaces.net show that Rhode Island averages 35.1 inches of snow per year, which is more than the national average of 27.8 inches per year. Other winter weather conditions such as freezing temperatures, ice accumulation and wind chill can cause a plethora of problems for drivers from icy roads to poor visibility. When winter is upon the Ocean State it is the responsibility of drivers to stay vigilant, keep the roads safe and avoid accidents.
Tips for Driving Safely in the Winter
There are times when winter driving accidents are unavoidable because of dangerous road conditions. However, drivers need to take precautions to adjust their driving habits for the safety of themselves and others. If you plan to drive during the winter months during or after a snowstorm it is important to remember that it is against the law to drive a motor vehicle with any significant amount of snow or ice on the vehicle (R.I.G.L. § 31-23-16). All snow and ice must be cleared off the entire vehicle including the roof, hood, trunk, and license plates. The glass surfaces and lights – windows, sideview mirrors, headlights, and taillights — must be clear and transparent as well. The Rhode Island State Police suggests that drivers adhere to these safety precautions when driving in the winter:
- When warming up a vehicle do not leave it unattended.
- Before you leave, bring your fully charged mobile device with you. Also, keep a charger in your car.
- Make sure your gas tank is at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
- Drive slowly.
- Do not tailgate.
- To avoid skidding, hit the brakes gently.
- Increase your visibility to other drivers by turning on your lights.
- Don’t use cruise control on icy roads.
- Bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads tend to freeze first, so be extremely careful when driving over them.
- Snowplows and sanding trucks have limited visibility, so don’t try to pass or overtake them.
- It is against the law to text and drive, but it is especially important to avoid this behavior during the winter with snow and ice on the roads.
Also, before taking your car on the road, check out the weather forecast and road conditions in your area. Tune into Rhode Island’s Highway Advisory Radio system or your local weather channel.
How to Prepare Your Car for the Winter Weather
Rhode Island experienced its first snowfall of 2022 in the first week of January (on 6-7). The National Weather Service reported the snow totals, which varied across the state. Some areas saw more than others, but the state average was around 7 inches of snow. With the first snowstorm of the year officially recorded, AAA Northeast is encouraging Rhode Island drivers to get their cars winter weather ready by following these steps:
- If you’re vehicle’s battery is more than three years old have the battery and charging system tested.
- Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold.
- Get a tune-up, so your ignition systems don’t fail.
- Always have your oil changed per manufacturer recommendations, but certainly worth taking care of with the rest of your winter prep.
- Think about installing winter tires, especially in areas with heavy winter weather.
- Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components.
- Replace wiper blades that leave streaks or miss spots and consider installing all-weather blades.
- It is not necessary to extensively warm up your vehicle. The more fuel-efficient technique is to start the car, wait a few minutes, buckle up, and drive reasonably until the engine comes up to operating temperature.
After getting your vehicle prepped for the winter weather conditions, it is also vital that you have certain supplies available in your vehicle in case of an emergency. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) suggests having these essentials items in your vehicle:
- Jumper cables
- Road flares
- Ice scrapper and/or snow brush
- Roadside assistance plan
- Cellphone with extra battery or car charger
- Tow rope
- Warm clothes or accessories (hats, sweaters, thermals, gloves, boots, etc.)
- First aid supplies
- Snacks and water
Contact The Law Offices of Fred T. Polacek — Providence, RI’s Winter Car Accident Lawyer
Winter can be problematic for drivers. That is why it is important to stay aware and drive safely. Winter season can cause accidents if drivers are speeding, tailgating, skidding, have poor visibility, drive with unsafe road conditions, and are distracted while driving. If you’ve been in a car accident caused by a negligent driver or because of poor road conditions, contact an experienced attorney who will fight for your compensation.