We just made it through the season’s first big snow storm, and if you were not prepared already- you need to get ready for winter driving season.

Each winter we worry about dangerous road conditions like snow, slush, ice and animals such as deer. Here is our list of what you should do to get ready for this year’s winter driving season.

The North Country Driver's Survival Guide:

Leave extra time for travel

Safety is no accident. Many people think that when cars crash it is an accident. Accident assumes there was no fault, that crash happened out of the blue. No driver wants to cause a crash- but the cause of the crash is often caused by negligent behavior. This can seem like pure semantics- crash vs. accident- but safe drivers think about how their actions impact others.  Driving too fast for weather conditions, passing the plow, failing to clean off your car properly are all careless driving behaviors. Accidents are caused by negligence- so leave yourself the time necessary to do the right thing.

Check your car’s fluids

As you get your vehicle winter-ready, you will need to ensure that the following oils are up to date:

  • Engine oil 
  • Coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Windshield wiper fluid, 
  • Brake fluid  
  • Power steering fluid

Many mechanics also advise drivers to keep their gas tank half full throughout the winter.

Winter is a hazardous season when many car crashes happen

Scan for animals

If you are not used to driving in the North Country, you may not realize how many animals live and travel near our major roads. There are nearly 1.5 Million car crashes with deer every year in the United States. Deer move in herds, so if you see one, expect that more are around. The majority of car/deer crashes happen between the hours of 6pm and 9pm.  While driving be sure to scan the sides of the road. Be on alert for the reflection of lights in the eyes of animals waiting near the shoulder of the road.

Do not swerve to animals

Building off the last point, if an animal is in your lane, it can be more dangerous to swerve. It is common for drivers to collide with other vehicles or trees when attempting to avoid an animal in the road. It is better to slam on your brakes and use your emergency brake when an animal is in your lane of travel. 

Check the treads of your tires

If you can afford to purchase winter tires, buy them! Winter tires are made for the slushy and slippery weather conditions, but not everyone can afford them. If you have all-weather tires, check that you still have an appropriate amount of tread left on your tires to grip the road.

How to check the tread on your tires: Inserting a penny, Lincoln’s head facing down, into your tire tread.  If your tire tread covers a portion of Lincoln’s head, your tires still have a working tread. 

Check your tire pressure

Throughout the winter you should consistently check that your tires are inflated to the proper the manufacture suggested pressure. Under-inflated tires can be dangerous, and when the temperature drops it cause tires to lose pressure. You can find the recommended tire pressure on the inside of the door frame, the glove box or sometimes on the interior of the trunk.

Check your battery

If you do not have a battery with proper voltage, you may find yourself unable to start your car on some of the colder north country mornings. Ensure your battery is working and is an appropriate voltage for cold weather. A higher voltage battery will be sure to start even in the dead of winter.

Winter Emergency Car first aid kit

Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle in case of a crash

As you may know, there are areas of the north country that do not have cellular service (i.e., sections of the Northway around Elizabethtown, NY). If you cannot reach out for help to emergency services- you may have to rely on a stranger to offer you assistance. Make sure you have a survival kit in your car to keep you warm long enough for help to arrive.

Consider creating a winter survival kit containing: Jumper cables, flashlights, flares, an ice scraper and snow brush, small-car snow shovel, blankets, sand or cat litter (for traction), a first-aid kit, food, necessary medications, and a cell phone charger can help you stay safe.

Do not pass the plow

No matter if you are on the Northway or just Route 9, you will inevitably feel trapped behind a snowplow. Many people get frustrated because plows travel slower, which means you may be late to wherever you’re going. No matter how tempting it can it can be, it is hazardous to attempt to pass the plow. Our snowplows not only get the slush and snow, but they also salt and sand the path behind them. Leave yourself extra travel time and stay safe behind the plow.

Clean off your car

It can seem tedious to scrape the windshield, windows, and rear window of your vehicle. It can seem even more tedious to brush off the “snow hat” on the roof of your vehicle. Many car crashes have happened because the driver had not properly removed the snow and ice from their car. Take the time necessary to clean off the snow and ice, so you don’t injure yourself or another driver.

Need a car crash lawyer?

Schneider & Palcsik are 5-star rated injury lawyers. You need a lawyer who works hard and can get you the results that you deserve. Call Mark Schneider and Drew Palcsik for a free consultation. Call our Plattsburgh office, (518)594-6044 or our Middlebury Office, (802)231-3377