Is it Safe to Drive in Snow?
No, “It’s downright dangerous,” says Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News Analyst, and former New Jersey Supreme Court Judge who splits his time between living in Manhattan and on his New Jersey farm.
The judge is a cautious man who recognizes there are many reasons why you might feel the need to drive in the snow but might well either stay home or alternatively, take public transportation such as a bus or subway.
First the grim statistics. According to AAA, each year there are over 450,000 crashes, nearly 160,000 injuries, and 2100 deaths in each winter season.
What are the reasons for all the mayhem during the winter? Let’s count the ways.
Improper Preparation of a Vehicle
You may have seen it time and time again. It rains, then freezes, and also snows. A worker has it timed to go to work precisely. Fifteen minutes from their home to work.
But they don’t take into account the 10 minutes it takes to scrape their car windows.
No time they think. “I’ll just scrape the minimum amount of ice and snow off so that I can see.”
Judge Napolitano thinks this is a big mistake. Vision isn’t highly rated. Fail to scrape properly and you are a living accident waiting to happen.
A driver cannot rely on all-weather tires in snow, particularly if the tires are old.
Most drivers do not take into account the condition of their tires and wind up slipping and sliding all over the highway. And you have never lived till you do a 360-degree turn on the highway. When your car is skidding all over the highway, pray that your car insurance is full coverage. Trust us, you will likely soon need it.
It only makes sense that when there is snow and ice on the road a driver needs to slow down. But for some reason, many people have what we call SUV safety illusions.
What is that? They think that because their SUV was built to give the illusion that they can drive off-road (they are not, they are mostly just bigger vehicles) that they can go or even exceed the speed limit.
We see it all the time. An SUV passes us going 65 while every sane driver is going 45, and then a quarter of the mile down the road, the same SUV is in the ditch.
For heaven’s sakes, slow down and live.
This is the corollary of the typical snow speed demon. When driving in snow and ice a driver needs to be prepared to break early. Early and often. They may need to apply the break 4 or 5 times to stop at a stoplight or stop sign.
Many accidents happen because driver A skids into the open lane of traffic that driver B is driving at due to poor breaking during snow and ice.
Prepare for Long Trips
If a driver is going out of town during the snow they need to be prepared. They should have winter coats and jackets, a full tank of gas, perhaps snacks and drinks, and a fully charged cell phone along with emergency flares. You never know when it is possible that you can spend hours sidelined on the side of the road.
Wait it Out if Possible
The best advice is to wait it out rather than drive if it is snowing heavily. After all, most schools and events will be canceled anyway.