Weather can change fairly quickly here in Chicago, and we can experience dangerous driving conditions due to wind, snow, ice, and much more. We recently highlighted some helpful tips for staying safe as a pedestrian, but we also wanted to share winter driving-specific safety tips for Illinois residents.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has a winter road conditions map that we recommend you consult before driving out of town or if a big storm has passed through. It can help you plan your driving route and mentally prepare yourself for possible inclement weather.
Here are some tips for driving safely all winter long, including what to do if you’re in a Chicago car accident:
- Slow down. We can’t emphasize this enough – don’t speed. If you absolutely have to be on the road during inclement weather, slow down. Visibility and road conditions may be poor, and even driving the speed limit may result in a Chicago car crash or fender-bender.
- Increase your following distance. You shouldn’t tailgate in general, but you’ll want to be sure to keep extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Leave early to allocate more time for travel. The last thing you want is to be rushing out the door, late for a meeting or appointment, and drive erratically or too fast for the conditions. Give yourself some extra time to deal with things like clearing off your car, traffic, and road clearing.
- Tell someone where you’re headed. Though this is the worst case scenario, it’s possible that you will get stuck somewhere or find yourself in an Illinois auto accident when you’re on the road. Let someone know where you’re headed and what time you expect to be arriving so that if you don’t show up within a reasonable amount of time, people can start to look for you.
- If you happen to get into a Chicago car accident, move your vehicle out of the roadway and don’t stand in the roadway. Don’t expect that people will be able to see you if you’re in the roadway, especially if visibility is a problem. Move over to the side of the road. Depending on the conditions and the situation, you may also want to stay in your vehicle while you wait for emergency services to arrive. As a motorist, also be careful for people standing in the roadway. Other drivers and emergency personnel are at risk during emergency situations involving car collisions.
- If you don’t have to go anywhere, don’t. While we enjoy the freedom of moving around, running errands, and going places, a severe winter storm warning can lead to dangerous conditions. Stay off the roadways if you can.
- Prepare your vehicle for inclement weather. You might be able to avoid driving during the most severe Illinois weather, but you probably will have to drive at some point during the winter here in Chicago. Before the weather worsens, check your windshield wipers, windshield fluid, antifreeze, battery, and tires. Don’t let your gas tank get too low – you don’t want the tank to freeze, and having a full gas tank can help in case you get into car trouble or a traffic jam on the road. A good ice scraper and snow brush should also be easily accessible within your vehicle.
- Put together an emergency kit. FEMA has a list of items they suggest including in an emergency kit. These include things like non-perishable food, drinking water, clothing, blankets, an extra coat, jumper cables, an extra phone charger, and other items that can be very useful in case you get into an emergency situation.
We hope that these tips are helpful to you during the upcoming winter months. If you find yourself in a Chicago car accident and suffering injuries as a result, you may have a personal injury claim. Click “live chat” to speak with a lawyer about your options. Our consultations are always free and we are available 24/7.