Although winter is nearly two months away, we’ve already begun feeling the temperatures drop, the rain drizzle and the days lengthen. And in the midst of the pre-winter solstice rush, we are reminded of the dangers associated with driving in harsh weather conditions. So before we become engrossed in holiday festivities, let’s review driving in New York City and proper winter car upkeep (which will be outlined in the second part of this series).
Thousands of New Yorkers hailing cabs, cars weaving in and out; driving in the city requires patience and attentiveness. Now envision slippery streets, snow blizzards and drivers who have had one glass of wine too many; driving in the city during winter requires exceptional driving skills and alertness.
According to a 2011 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following driving behaviors caused fatal crashes;
- Swerving or avoiding due to wind, slippery surface, other vehicle, etc.: 1,741
- Vision obscured (rain, snow, glare, lights, buildings, trees, etc.): 1,301
- Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit: 9,080
- Under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication: 6,042
- Overcorrecting/oversteering: 2,080
New York Winter Driving Tips:
Avoid Skidding: To avoid skidding, brake gently and avoid quickly increasing or decreasing your speed. If you start skidding, turn into the skid and decrease the speed. As the car slows, turn the wheel back to the direction you want the car to go and gradually accelerate.
Increase Visibility: Because hard winter conditions usually entail blizzards and hail, it’s important that you increase your visibility, as well as other motorists and pedestrians. This means turning on your lights and cleaning your windshield.
Brake Gently: Because it takes 4 to 10 times longer to stop when driving in ice or now, it’s essential that you decrease your speed and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you (3 times more space than in normal driving conditions).
Driving on hills: Use low gears to maintain traction. When driving uphill, it’s best to increase your speed and accelerate at the bottom of the hill to gain momentum. When driving downhill, slow down at the top.
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