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How to Be a Safe Driver Year-Round

mid-size vehicle driving around a turn in a rural, snow-covered area

Safe Driving Tips for Any Season

Colorado drivers can experience different weather conditions simply depending on where they are in the state. Because of this and the seasonal changes throughout the year, a 2021 study found that Colorado is the 'safest' state for driving in adverse weather conditions. On average, only four fatal crashes per one million drivers are attributed to bad weather.

Motorists have a responsibility to adapt their driving to the current road conditions, and these seasonal changes come with different hazards. No matter the time of year, you can commit to safer driving by using these tips.

Winter

With winter often comes the possibility of snow or ice. What some people call “black ice” is simply ice that is so clear you can see the road pavement below, making the ice look “black” or the roads look wet.

While some parts of the state start seeing measurable snowfall as early as October, an unseasonably warm year may delay snow until late November or December. Whenever it begins, drivers should be mindful of how to drive safely in these conditions.

Snow and Ice

While using tire chains or snow tires is a crucial component of being a safe winter driver, you can use many other skills to reduce your risk of a collision, especially when ice is present. Remember:

  • Ice is not always obvious—sometimes the road just looks wet—so exercise more caution on days when it's above freezing during the day and below freezing at night.
  • If you encounter ice, avoid slamming on the brakes and try to keep the steering wheel steady. If you have anti-lock brakes on your car, let the brakes do the work. Do not “pump” the brakes, but apply steady pressure.
  • If you feel your car skidding, turn in the direction of the skid.

The Colorado Department of Transportation also acknowledges that one of the safest places to drive during snow is behind the snowplow, so long as you are going at a safe speed and using the proper tires.

Spring

Although parts of Colorado may have lingering snow in the springtime, this is typically when the weather patterns fluctuate. From heavy rains and flooding to early tornadoes and hail, there is no shortage of potential hazards that may arise.

Rain and Floods

Heavy rain not only makes the roads slick, but it also brings a risk of flooded roadways. On rainy days, it’s important to:

  • Keep an increased stopping distance between you and other vehicles.
  • Remain calm and keep both hands on the wheel if hydroplaning— you may need to turn in the direction you want the car to go to regain traction.
  • Keep your headlights on to increase visibility to other drivers.
  • Turn around and go another direction when the road is flooded. Do not try to drive through water when you cannot see how deep it is. Your vehicle may stall even in shallow water.

If your car is caught in a flooded area and begins to stall, do not stay put. When safe to do so, get out of the vehicle and seek higher ground.

Summer

Colorado is beautiful in the summer, but there are adverse conditions you should be mindful of even during this time of year. In fact, Colorado is ranked in the top ten states with the most tornadoes annually. According to the National Weather Service, the state averages about 46 tornadoes each year— and the summer is when they're most common.

Tornadoes

Although it's safer to avoid driving on days when tornado risk is high, there may be instances in which they appear without much notice. If you're on the road when a tornado hits, there are steps you can take to improve your safety.

  • Do not attempt to take shelter under an overpass or try to outrun the tornado.
  • If you can see it in the distance, immediately find a sturdy building to take shelter in.
  • If you can see it approaching or getting bigger, pull off the road and keep your seatbelt fastened. You will also want to duck below the windows and put a blanket, jacket, or cushion over your head.

When the tornado passes, you will still want to drive with caution, as there may be debris in the roadway.

Fall

As summer fades into fall and the temperatures cool down once again, you see more incidents of storms, high wind, and even fog with the humidity changes. However, this time of year is also infamous for increases in serious crashes compared to other seasons, with these months recording higher rates of severe injury and fatal crashes annually. Visibility issues and reckless driving behaviors tend to contribute to many crashes during fall. When foggy days begin towards the end of the season, it's important to be prepared to adjust your commute.

Dense Fog

The biggest threat that comes from foggy conditions is the impact on visibility. When fog is present, remember to:

  • Allow yourself extra time to get to your destination to avoid rushing.
  • Keep your low beams or fog lights on at all times, never the high beams.
  • Use the thick right line, the “fog line,” as a guide to keep your vehicle centered and traveling in the right direction. Don't use the center lines, as this could cause you to drift into other lanes.
  • Minimize distractions in your vehicle as much as possible.

By implementing one or more of these tips throughout the year, you can help contribute to the overall safety of our Colorado roads.

Klein Frank, P.C. is a dedicated personal injury firm with over 60 years of combined experience in client advocacy and trial experience. Schedule a free consultation with a member of our team by calling (303) 448-8884.
 

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