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4 Practical Winter Car Driving Tips to Help Avoid Accidents in St. Louis

Winter driving poses unique challenges, especially in Gateway Cities, where icy roads and heavy snowfall are common. 

In St. Louis, winters last from December to February. The average temperatures vary from 24 °F (-4.44 °C) to 43 °F (6.11 °C). January has the coldest median temperature of the year, -0.0 °C. Moreover, it is also the month with the lowest amount of sunshine observed daily. It receives just over 5.2 hours of sunlight a day. 

This makes it crucial to be well-prepared and informed about the best winter driving practices. It will help you stay alert and avoid crashes. This blog post will cover four practical tips to tackle winter roads safely. You’ll minimize risks and drive confidently during the winter by following these tips.

#1. Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Your car needs some extra TLC during the winter months. Start by ensuring your tires are winter-ready. 

Regularly check tire tread depth and pressure. You require good traction to grip slippery roads, so if you have balding tires, it’s time for a new set. Winter tires provide a more lasting grip on snow and ice than regular tires, reducing the risk of skidding. Adequate tire tread ensures better grip, while correct tire pressure prevents uneven wear and potential blowouts.

Next, give your battery some attention. Cold weather puts more demand on your car’s battery. Get it inspected to confirm it’s in perfect shape. Additionally, top off your antifreeze levels and use windshield wiper fluid with winter-grade formulas to withstand freezing temperatures. A well-maintained battery ensures reliable engine start-ups, whereas proper fluid levels prevent freezing and maintain visibility. 

Double-check to ensure all lights are working, as winter storms can limit visibility. Finally, equip your car with an emergency kit containing blankets, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, and non-perishable snacks. These items can be lifesavers if you get stranded in severe weather. An ice scraper, shovel, and extra-warm clothing are also essential. 

Being prepared for emergencies can make a significant difference in your safety.

#2. Driving Techniques for Icy and Snowy Road.

Winter driving requires a slower, more deliberate approach. Always drive slowly and keep the following distance.

Reduced speed allows for better reaction time and control, whereas keeping distance between you and the car ahead can prevent accidents. Maintaining a longer following distance gives you more time to stop if the vehicle in front of you suddenly breaks. Accelerate and brake gently to avoid skidding. 

Forget cruise control during the winter. You need full control of your vehicle. Avoid erratic actions like sudden turns or impulsive braking. These actions can cause your car to lose traction and skid. If you do start to slip, avoid panicking. Stay calm and steer into the skid, gently easing off the gas. 

Even emergency vehicles aren’t immune to icy conditions. As FOX2now reported, a fire truck recently slid and spun on ice in Jefferson County, narrowly avoiding a collision with a house. The accident occurred when firefighters responded to a crash in Block 1700 of Parkside Place, just west of Imperial. This incident highlights how large vehicles can struggle with winter road conditions.

Moreover, be extra cautious on bridges and overpasses, as they freeze faster than other roads. When driving on icy roads, use lower gears to maintain better control and prevent your wheels from spinning. It’s effective when maneuvering hills or sharp curves. Lower gears provide more torque and better handling on slippery surfaces.

#3. Familiarize Yourself With St. Louis-Specific Winter Hazards

St. Louis has its unique winter driving challenges. Black ice is a major concern, especially after freezing rain. It’s nearly invisible, so be extra vigilant in shady areas and on bridges.

Black ice is a transparent, thin layer covering the road, thus earning it its name. This makes it a nuisance to seniors, people with mobility issues, and drivers. In one instance, a massive pileup involving over twenty cars occurred on Interstate 64 eastbound between DD and N. Another pileup consisting of over two dozen automobiles occurred on Route 370 eastbound. 

According to KSDK, both incidents were attributed to black ice-covered roads. While the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) didn’t report any injuries, these incidents highlight the severe risks of black ice.

The city’s hilly terrain can also make driving difficult in winter conditions. Use lower gears when descending to stabilize your speed instead of focusing on your brakes. During winter storms, expect heavy traffic on major highways like I-70 and I-55. Allow extra time to reach your destination.

In fact, during a recent ice storm in January 2024, about three dozen Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) trucks were involved in crashes. In southwest Missouri, the department had over a dozen heavy-duty vehicles slipping off the roadway. According to MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna, about 1,500 machines cover 34,000 miles (54,717.7 km) of road across the state. 

These incidents further emphasize the hazards posed by icy conditions. Finally, familiarize yourself with St. Louis traffic laws related to winter driving. This may include things like speed limits and using snow tires or chains. Knowing and following local laws helps you drive safely and avoid fines.

#4. Know What to Do if an Accident Occurs

Despite your best efforts and intentions, accidents can still happen. If you get into a winter car crash, put safety first. Move to safety and call the police to report the incident. 

Exchange required details with the driver(s) involved. Photograph the incident and any damage. Get emergency assistance, even if you seem fine. The consequences of a car accident can be tiring, especially when dealing with legal matters. A St. Louis car accident lawyer can guide you through this. They will explain the complex legalities, ensuring your rights are protected. Moreover, they will also help you secure a fair settlement for any losses or damages. 

They can guide you through filing claims, determining fault, and negotiating settlements. To make a significant difference in your legal case’s progress, TorHoerman Law recommends seeking legal counsel early on.

People Also Ask

Q1. What Are the Leading Causes of Winter Car Accidents in St. Louis?

The most common culprits include black ice, snow-covered roads, and freezing rain. Drivers often struggle with reduced visibility and traction. Rapid temperature changes can also cause sudden ice patches. Overconfident driving and not adjusting speed to road conditions further increase accident risks.

Q2. Is It Mandatory to Use Winter Tires in St. Louis?

While not legally required, switching to winter tires is highly recommended for St. Louis drivers. Winter tires are designed to provide superior traction on snow and ice. They reduce the likelihood of swerving and losing stability. Picture them as your car’s winter boots. They make a world of difference in slippery conditions.

Q3. What Should I Do if I See a MoDoT Truck on the Side of the Road During a Winter Storm?

Give them plenty of space. MoDOT crews work tirelessly to keep roads ice-free, often in hazardous conditions. Slow down and move over if possible, allowing them to do their job safely. Remember, they’re there for your safety, too.

To conclude, winter driving in St. Louis doesn’t have to be a nightmare. However, it does require adequate planning and awareness. By following these useful suggestions, you’ll be ready to face whatever the season throws at you.

Remember, preparation is key. So, stay informed, drive carefully, and consult professionals to navigate legal challenges. Stay safe out there!

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