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6 Safe Driving Tips for Winter in Texas

Driving safely on winter highways in Texas with light rain and cars breaking ahead.

Texas drivers have a lot to contend with in winter, from bad weather and slick roads to holiday traffic and more drunk drivers behind the wheel.

December and January, in particular, are two of the most deadly months for fatal motor vehicle crashes in Texas. In 2022, more than 730 fatal accidents occurred during these two winter months alone, according to Texas Department of Transportation crash statistics.

Bottom line: Winter driving in Texas is hazardous. And with El Niño expected to cause wetter conditions, heavy rains may soon be on the way. Here are seven ways to drive safer during the most unpredictable of seasons.

If you were injured in a Houston car accident, contact our Houston car accident injury lawyers near you to schedule a free consultation.

1. Prepare for Wet or Icy Roads

Depending on where you live in Texas, you may not be very well-acquainted with the winter hazard of freezing bridges or black ice.  But you are likely very familiar with how quickly water can turn driving into a disaster.  

Let’s face it: weather in the Lone Star State is highly unpredictable and often history-making, from flash-flooding to arctic blasts that disrupt our way of life in an instant. Staying safe behind the wheel starts with brushing up on the basics of driving in conditions that cause slick, wet, or hazardous roads.

If Roads Are Wet

A 3,000-pound car floats in just two feet of water — two feet!  

Always stay vigilant in flood-prone areas, and avoid driving through any flooded roadway. Two feet doesn’t always look like very deep water, but any amount of puddling and pooling can hide hazards beneath, including deep potholes or even washed-out bridges.  

When flooding is not the issue, rain will have mixed with oil to create slick roads, so slow down and leave space. Breaking in these slippery conditions can lead to skidding, which increases the likelihood of an accident.

If Roads Are Icy or Snow-Covered

In icy and snowy conditions, slow and steady is the name of the game. Accelerate gently. Brake gently.  Steer gently.  It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface, so leave space for vehicles to stop ahead of you. Drive slow and make sure your cruise control is turned off. 

When approaching stops and intersections, it’s also a good idea to brake early with slow and steady movements. This will let you test traction. Always use caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses, and in shaded spots, which often freeze before the road does. And go easy on turns, which can also send you skidding.

If you ever start to skid, do the following:

  • Remain calm
  • Ease your foot off the gas (don’t brake!)
  • Carefully steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go (don’t yank the wheel!)
  • Pull over and take a breather

2. Drive Even More Defensively Around Holidays

Year over year,  fatal Texas car accidents surge during the winter holidays (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years). Drunk driving is also more prevalent, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and  traffic is heavier.  

To navigate busy roads and reckless drivers, consider leaving earlier to avoid traffic. If you get stuck in slow-moving traffic, don’t use the opportunity to check your phone or multi-task. Keep your eyes on the road.  

Going on a longer holiday road trip? Take regular breaks from driving. A good cadence is a 15-minute stop for every two hours you drive. And never overload your vehicle — it’s not Santa’s sleigh —  and adding too much weight can affect how it handles on the road, right down to the brakes.

3. Get Ready for Fog

Dense fog is more likely to blanket cities across Texas in winter, creating low visibility on roads.Using your wipers and defroster to maximize visibility will only get you so far in these conditions. 

Make sure to also slow down and drive only as fast as your limited field of vision calls for. Just as in wet or icy weather, leave more space to double your braking distance. Use low beam headlights (not high beams, which cause glare in fog) and let the right edge of the road act as your guide. If you can’t see in front of you and must pull off the road, make sure you are pulled over completely and turn on your hazards as soon as possible.

4. Give Your Vehicle Some Much-Needed Attention

Have you checked your tire pressure in a while? Changed out those wipers that keep leaving a streak of gunk across your windshield? 

It’s important to maintain your vehicle year-round, particularly in winter, when conditions on the road can change in an instant and your car needs to perform at its best. Top off your fluid, get an oil change, and attend to any minor repairs you’ve been putting off. 

Most important and perhaps easiest of all: check your tire pressure. Low air is a leading cause of blowouts and is easily remedied at an air pump. Getting your tires rotated can also extend their life and prevent uneven wear — worn-out tread can lead you to slide and skid across wet roads.

5. Play it Safer Around Trucks

Massive big rigs and 18-wheelers are a common sight on Texas highways. Sadly, so are large truck accidents. Because of their size and weight, large commercial trucks require substantially longer distances to come to a stop, making them much more likely to crash on slick roads.  

In winter months, take extra precaution to keep a safe distance from large trucks and commercial vehicles. Also, let truckers know when you’re passing. Keep your turn signal on longer than normal and make certain the truck is clear of your vehicle before changing lanes.

6. Pack a Winter Car Emergency Kit

Getting stranded in bad winter weather, or even snowed in, can be life-threatening as you wait for help to arrive.  While having everyday essentials like a AAA card, phone and charger, and GPS in your car is one thing, preparing a winter car emergency kit is a must to stay safe when bad weather rolls in.

If temperatures dip and you get stuck, having these additional items on hand could make a huge difference in your survival and well-being:

·  Blanket(s)

·  Hand warmers

·  Bottled water

·  Nonperishable food

·  First-aid kit

·  Road flares or reflective road triangles

·  Pocketknife or multi-tool

·  LED flashlight

·  Foam tire sealant

·  Tire gauge

·  Jumper cables

·  Portable phone charger

·  Battery or hand-crank radio

Injured in a Car Accident in Texas? Contact Our Undefeated Houston Car Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation at 888-603-3636.

Just because you go the extra mile and prepare for winter driving, doesn’t mean everyone else on the road will be as thoughtful as you.  

Our Undefeated Houston Car Accident Lawyers have won Billions on behalf of thousands of people injured and tragically killed across Texas and throughout the United State and understand the profound impact a crash can have on victims and their loved ones.

If you or a loved were injured in a car or truck accident, call 1-888-603-3636 or send us a confidential email through our Contact Us form.  We’ll answer your questions, explain your options, and provide you with the information you need to decide what’s best for you and your family.

All consultations are free, and you won’t pay us a dime unless we win your case.