10 Bad Habits Kentucky Drivers Should Avoid This Winter

Cold weather storms are making their way across the Bluegrass and that has already caused numerous travel disruptions and motor vehicle accidents which will continue to happen throughout the winter months. Ice and sleet filled mixes often plague the state this time of year when warmer temperatures and heavy rains melt snow during the day but freeze into icy patches at night. These are ideal road conditions that create accident risks involving drivers of all skill abilities. Although it can be difficult in some instances to pinpoint the driver responsible for accidents that occur during hazardous road conditions, it remains the duty of all Kentucky drivers to take appropriate precautions when driving during the winter months.

Stay safe on the road during these weather changes. Nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one lost in a fatal car accident or a lifelong injury that could have been prevented. Do your best to avoid these ten bad driving habits to keep yourself, passengers, and others safe.

Bad Habit No. 1: Driving with the Lights Off

The dull, cloudy days that often accompany fall and winter driving will cut down on visibility. It is best to drive using low-beam headlights. A well-lit roadway can also shine upon any cold weather hazards like deer crossing. About 1 in 100 Kentucky drivers will hit a deer, well above the national odds of 1 in 162. In addition to causing damage to vehicles, deer contribute to more than 100 injury crashes and about three highway fatalities in Kentucky each year.

Bad Habit No. 2: Fearless of Black Ice 

Black ice gets its name from its ability to blend in with its surroundings. Use caution when traveling on bridges, overpasses or off ramps as ice can easily form here compared to other areas of the road. If driving at night, watch for areas in which headlights reflect off, as it may be a sign of ice. If you find yourself slipping, stay calm and let your vehicle pass over it.

Bad Habit No. 3: Forgetting to Buckle Up

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt usage is still down in Kentucky. Be sure that everyone is wearing a seat belt and children are latched into appropriate car seats and booster seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends rear-facing car seats for children until they reach the height or weight limit for the seat, likely beyond a toddler’s second birthday, and leaving them rear-facing as long as possible to maximize protections against accident injuries. When all passengers are buckled, the risk of serious injury and death in a car crash is reduced by half.

Bad Habit No. 4: Driving Distracted

Dangerous weather condition crashes too often occur because the driver is distracted. The most influential distraction we see today is using your electronics and cell phones to talk or send messages while operating a vehicle. Save any calls or multitasking for when you are not behind the wheel, especially when road conditions are not ideal.

Bad Habit No. 5: Braking into a Turn or Skid

Drivers should be lightly laying on the brakes before making a turn on an icy or snow-covered road and coast through the turn, avoiding the gas. Slamming on the brakes will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control. If you find yourself skidding, remain calm, take your foot off the brake and the gas pedal, and turn the car in the direction the car is skidding.

Bad Habit No. 6: Driving an Unkept Vehicle

You must get in the habit of clearing windows, rooftops, taillights and headlights of accumulated snow, ice, mud or dirt before leaving for your destination. Fill your gas tank and be sure your windshield washer fluid includes antifreeze. Make certain your tires are properly inflated.

Bad Habit No. 7: Using Cruise Control

Most cars feature cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in icy, wet or snowy conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle will increase. Avoid cruise control during the winter months.

Bad Habit No. 8: Slowing Down Too Fast

Hopefully you won’t have to slow down too quickly while driving through tricky road conditions, but if you do, try lightly pumping your brakes. This reduces your chance of locking your tires and spinning out. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), press and hold the brake down as far as possible in an emergency to prevent the wheels from locking, and allowing you to steer away from a collision. Refrain from accelerating too fast for similar reasons.

Bad Habit No. 9: Driving Too Close

It’s important to increase your distance between other vehicles in snowy or icy conditions, especially in Kentucky’s most congested areas. Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you because stopping on ice, slush or snow may require up to four times your normal stopping distance. Driving too close could increase your chance of being involved in a chain reaction rear-end collision.

Bad Habit No. 10: Speeding

If you are driving in bad weather or on slick roads, try reducing your speed about 10 miles per hour below the speed limit, or more until you’re comfortable. Drive carefully and slow down a couple of hundred feet before stop signs and lights.

In addition, watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Even if you can drive well in the ice and snow, not everyone else can. Instead, delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

Owensboro and Madisonville Winter Car Accident Lawyers — No Recovery, No Fee

With offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads represents car accident victims throughout Western Kentucky. We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. There is no payment required up front and we get paid only if we win or settle your case. There is NO RISK involved. Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with one of our Madisonville or Owensboro personal injury attorneys.