Denver is a beautiful place to live and work, but winter driving can be tricky for newcomers. There are about 6 million car accidents a year in the United States, many of which occur in the wintertime because of the driving conditions. In 2016, there were 605 fatalities in car accidents in Colorado. Reducing the risk of being involved in a car accident in Denver during the winter can be as simple as following these tips.
Keep Your Vehicle in Good Shape
Harsh winter road conditions are not just rough on drivers, they are rough on vehicles. Making sure your vehicle is well-maintained and fully functional is imperative for driver safety and the safety of your vehicle. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes but never go beyond 7,500 miles between oil changes or beyond six months without having your oil changed if you use synthetic oil. If you use traditional oil you should never go beyond 5000 miles before you have your oil changed.
Make sure you do all the following for your vehicle to enhance road safety:
- Replace worn windshield wipers. You will need good working windshield wipers to ensure visibility.
- Have your vehicle outfitted with the right tires. All-season tires or snow tires are necessary in Denver for winter driving.
- Have your brakes inspected. If pads need to be replaced on your brakes make sure you replace them.
Before you get on the road, inspect your headlights and tail lights to ensure they are both working. A little maintenance can go a long way in enhancing safe driving.
Check The Weather
Weather can change quickly in Denver. Make sure you check the weather before you leave the house so you know what to expect. Leaving yourself extra time to get to where you are going based on the forecast will help to keep you safe.
Leave Plenty of Room
Car accidents make up about 52% of all personal injury cases. A car accident can be defined as anything from a crash with another car to hitting someone on a bike. A good majority of car accidents occur because of driver error. One of the most common errors a driver makes is not allowing themselves enough time to stop. Under normal driving conditions (not in winter weather) you should leave at least a single car length between you and the driver ahead of you. In the winter, that length is expanded to two to three car lengths, depending on the severity of the road conditions. Leave yourself enough time to stop on slick surfaces.
Accelerate and Decelerate Slowly
For many drivers it is a knee-jerk reaction to stomp on the break when they need to slow down. Minimizing the speed that you are traveling at and slowly decelerating instead of stomping on the brake is safer. In a similar vein, building up speed slowly in winter weather is safer than accelerating quickly. You can lose traction if you hit the gas pedal too hard. Slow and steady always wins the race in winter driving in Denver.
If You Start to Slide
If you start to slide in the snow or on black ice, take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want your car to go without jerking the wheel. Overcorrecting by jerking the steering wheel in the direction you want to go can potentially cause you to spin out of control or fishtail.
The Denver DOT does an excellent job of responding quickly to winter weather. However, there may be times that while they are working on clearing the roads you are already on them. Have an emergency kit in the trunk just in case you are stuck on the side of the road or in an accident and have to wait for help.
Your kit should include a blanket, flashlight, or another beacon, some water, and something to snack on. Stay in your car until help arrives. Winter driving can be tricky in Denver but these tips should help you get prepared and stay safe.