Driving it Home: Avoiding winter weather-related accidents
We've seen a lot of snow and frigid weather the past few weeks. With the inclement weather comes a reminder for safe driving. Our Megan Cruz has some helpful information in this month’s Driving it Home.
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LATHAM, N.Y. -- Winter driving isn't out of the ordinary for people here in New York, but despite that, there are still thousands of winter weather-related accidents a year.
With two hands on the wheel, trooper Lenny Fornabia makes his way down 787. It's not too long before he comes across an accident.
"They were coming off a ramp, they clearly didn't reduce their speed, and they lost control of the car," said trooper Fornabia.
Winter driving woes. Drivers know to expect it here in New York. But still, Trooper Fornabia says last year there were 25,000 car accidents where the winter weather was a factor. Ways to not become a statistic this year?
"Biggest mistake is going too fast," he explained.
And did you know that in a storm, what's considered too fast might be below the posted speed limit?
"The posted speed limit is the speed limit for a sunny, dry day when conditions are ideal. Once you get snow, rain, sleet, ice, that posted speed limit is no longer the speed limit. The speed limit then becomes whatever it takes for you to stay in control of your vehicle."
Fornabia says a trooper can issue a ticket if a driver's speed contributed to the crash. And again, that speed could be below what's there on the sign. Trooper Fornabia says slow down, especially on the ramps.
"The highways are plowed before the ramps, so someone driving on the highway will have a false sense of security that the road is clear, they'll get on a ramp, fail to reduce their speeds and they'll end up off the ramps," said trooper Fornabia.
Same goes for driving on bridges and overpasses. He says those tend to get icy quicker.
Fornabia says the second biggest mistake is driving too close to the car in front of you.
"You should leave about three times more distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you in a snowstorm."
That goes for even those with four-wheel drive. Fornabia says it's common for people to think they're safer in those cars.
"Four--wheel drive will help them accelerate and maintain control of their vehicle. However, four-wheel drive does not give them any additional benefits to braking,” said trooper Fornabia.
Lastly, Fornabia says to clean off your cars. In New York State, he says you have to completely clear off your windshield, lights, side view mirrors, and license plate. But, you should take the extra couple minutes to do it all.
“It's like the mattress on the roof of the car. At some point the air is going to get under it and want to pull it up. You're blinding someone behind you or other vehicles around you, it creates a dangerous condition."
And for those still lazy with the brush, just avoid them and be a defensive driver.