In South Carolina, we don’t have winter like they have winter with a capital “W” in, say, North Dakota or New England, with snow often measured in feet. While those of us down South have our own winter driving hazards, such as ice storms and killer fogs, most of us don’t often drive above the Mason-Dixon Line. But during holiday travel time, when you may be driving where others deal with snow on a regular basis, we need to be mindful of winter weather and its special hazards.
It’s a no-brainer that your car should be recently serviced and equipped with snow tires should you be traveling north. If you’re driving really far north, a set of chains in the trunk—and the knowledge of how to put them on—should also appear on your list of must-haves. Other car maintenance items to be aware of include:
- Make sure your antifreeze-to-water ratio is 50-50, which will mean you are good down to approximately -34 degrees Fahrenheit. A mixture of 70 percent antifreeze and 30 percent water will take you to -84 degrees—likely good enough for the most northern parts of the 48 states.
- Never let your gas tank fall below half-full. If you become stranded, the engine will be your only source of heat.
- Make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape. Wipers are essential. It wouldn’t hurt to carry spares.
- Bring a snow shovel, a good ice scraper or two, a snow brush, and a spare bottle of windshield washer fluid. It also doesn’t hurt to carry a blanket or two, along with water and extra snacks, and a few quarts of oil and a funnel, just in case.
- Keep your cell phone charged up so you can call for help.
- If the going gets too rough, stop at the nearest hotel, motel, restaurant, or even a “big box” store, which can be open as much as 18-24 hours a day. Stay safe!
Snow, Snow, Go Away
Should it be snowing outside, the best thing you can do is not drive, especially if you are not experienced at handling snow. Stay where you are if your location is safe, warm, and dry. However, if you really must travel, here are some tips for managing snow on the roads:
- In general, keep your speed down and don’t make sudden turns or brake hard. Think ahead about your next move.
- Use lower gears whenever possible.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
- Don’t drive faster than usual when going up hills, but don’t come to a full stop if you can possibly avoid it.
- If you do get stuck, don’t floor it! Use your lowest gear and put whatever you can under the drive-train tires to gain traction and climb out of your snow hole.
Finally, for those driving more locally, some reminders:
- Keep plenty of room between you and other vehicles in fog, and—slow down!
- Use only low beams in fog.
- Take care on bridges and overpasses, which freeze first.
- Don’t use cruise control in icy or rainy conditions. Cruise control can cause acceleration in cases of hydroplaning.
- If your vehicle does hydroplane, don’t turn the wheel or hit the brakes. Steer straight and take your foot off the gas.
- Watch out for black ice! Black ice is often caused by wet roads that refreeze. If you find yourself sliding, take your foot off the gas and do not hit the brakes.
Wherever your travels take you, we at the Louthian Law Firm hope that you drive safely during this holiday season.
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Should you or a loved one become involved in a vehicular accident, the Louthian Law Firm can help you navigate the complexities of South Carolina’s laws, deal with the insurance companies, and assist you in obtaining the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, repair bills, lost income, and any other financial costs that the accident caused. Where appropriate, we’ll also seek compensation on your behalf for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. For a free evaluation of your South Carolina car accident case, call our lawyers today toll free at (803) 454-1200. Louthian Law Firm. Seeking truth. Securing justice.