Winter driving in Alabama can change abruptly. The state does not receive predictable snowfall each year, often making it difficult for drivers to prepare for the winter weather. Many drivers may encounter their first snow-driving experiences during one of Alabama’s occasional snowstorms. It is important to review safe-driving tips and best practices before hitting the road in Alabama this season.
Winterize Your Vehicle
Driver error might be a main cause of winter car accidents in Alabama, but it is not the only hazard. Many collisions occur due to vehicle-related malfunctions, such as brake failure or windshield wipers that do not work properly. It is your responsibility as a vehicle owner to properly inspect, maintain, and repair your vehicle to prepare it for winter driving. Pay special attention to the following areas as the temperatures drop:
- Tire pressure can decrease slightly in the cold weather, potentially affecting the way the tire grips the pavement.
- Fluids, including engine oil, can thicken during winter. This means the fluids may flow less freely through your vehicle. You may need winter-specific oil that is thinner.
- Cold weather can kill car batteries. Your battery has to work harder in the cold due to a lower starting capacity in cold weather. Consider battery replacement this time of year if you have an older battery.
Take your vehicle to a professional mechanic for a pre-winter inspection before you drive on a cold day in Alabama. Check your windshield wiper fluid, power steering, engine transmission, and other major systems for safety before setting out on a holiday road trip.
Know Where You Are Going
Many wintertime accidents happen because the driver is unfamiliar with the territory he or she is visiting for the holidays. If you will be driving in an unfamiliar place, or in winter weather that is new to you, prepare ahead of time. Research the topography and the weather so you know what to expect. Map out your route so you will not have to deal with the GPS while you are driving. Pack special winter emergency gear before you leave, such as:
- Salt or sand
- Windshield scraper
- Nonperishable food
- Bottled water
- Jumper cables and tools
Staying prepared can give you peace of mind and help your family be ready for anything that comes along as you drive. Even if you normally drive in Alabama, pay attention to weather reports. An unexpected storm could cause trouble.
Drive With Extra Caution
Winter weather can make the roads in Alabama wet, slippery, icy, and/or difficult to see. Use extra caution if you have to drive in bad weather. Drive at or below the posted speed limits, accelerating and braking slowly to accommodate icy roads. Leave extra following room in front of your vehicle. Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent your gas line from freezing. Do not use cruise control on slippery or icy roads.
Do not overcorrect your vehicle if you find yourself sliding in ice or water. Instead, remove your foot from the accelerator and gently apply the brakes. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Aim the wheel straight ahead, or in the direction the vehicle is spinning. Do not jerk the wheel to the side, as this could cause your vehicle to flip or drive off the road. Once you come to a stop, slowly and safely return to the roadway.
Eliminate Driver Distractions
Eliminate distractions and commit 100% of your attention to the roadway. Texting and driving, chatting with friends, taking a phone call, sipping coffee, or fiddling with the radio could all take your attention away from driving long enough to cause an accident. You can only safely react to changing roadway situations such as a stopped vehicle or an animal running into the road with your full attention on the driving task.