Road safety is paramount any time of year, but winter weather can present additional dangers unique to this time of year. Even drivers who are used to icy roads and poor driving conditions can often find themselves in danger.
Given that some parts of the U.S. are already experiencing its share of snow and ice, our Safety Wonderland blog series starts with recognizing and avoiding winter road hazards.
#1 – Black Ice
When roads freeze, black ice can become a deadly problem. This thin layer of invisible ice blends in with the asphalt, making it harder to see. Bridges, overpasses, and shady areas tend to be common places where black ice forms. To avoid the dangers of black ice, make sure you keep your steering wheel straight to avoid losing control. Don’t slow your speed by braking; instead, stop accelerating and try to let the car stop on its own.
#2 – Invisible Potholes
Potholes can fill with water and snow, making them hard to see. Even wet roadways that were previously cleared of ice may refreeze later, which means they can still pose a danger to drivers. They can cause serious damage to vehicles, and most people try to avoid them at all costs. If you see potholes, make sure you report them to your local traffic authority.
#3 – Longer Stopping Times
When roads are slippery, it may take you longer to bring your vehicle to a stop. Allow plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you, along with extra time to stop. In addition, you’ll want to slow down at the top of hills so that you have enough time to prepare for what’s on the other side.
#4 – Reduced Visibility
A snowstorm isn’t the only thing that can lessen your visibility during the winter. Low light conditions, fewer daylight hours, foggy or icy windows, road splatter, and dirty headlights can all affect how well you’re able to see while driving. Some of these things will also impact other drivers’ ability to see you.
Make sure you are using turn signals so others can easily see you. Keep your headlights and brake lights clean and clear of splatter. Clear any ice from your windows prior to driving. Also, run your heat and defroster on full blast for a few minutes to prevent any sudden fogging of your windshield.
It’s also a good idea to keep reflectors and reflective clothing in your vehicle in case you were to become stranded. This will help passing motorists better see you so you can stay safe while waiting for help.
#5 – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the less discussed dangers of winter road safety. While this can happen at any time, winter conditions make drivers more susceptible to it because of how the cold temperatures affect our behavior.
Sitting in an idling car for warmth might seem like a good idea, but this can pose a few potential dangers. For starters, you want to make sure your car isn’t running in any enclosed or semi-enclosed space, as the toxic fumes can fill the area quickly. Also, if your car’s tailpipe is partially covered in snow, it can redirect exhaust underneath the vehicle where it can enter the car. Starting and stopping a car frequently can also create more carbon monoxide than letting it run continuously.
The biggest danger is that carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. You may not feel its effects until it’s too late. You can install a carbon monoxide detector in your car to detect it before it has a chance to cause any issues.
Stay Safe on the Roads This Winter
While you may not be able to prevent winter road hazards from affecting your business, you can do a few things to mitigate their impact.
First, hold safety meetings with your team and help them understand the dangers and risks of winter road conditions. Perform a vehicle inspection to ensure tires, brakes, wipers, and the battery are in good shape. Also, make sure all company vehicles are stocked with jumper cables, blankets, phone chargers, and other supplies in case drivers were to become stranded.
Knowledge is power, so share this article with your employees and help keep everyone safe on the roads this winter.