“Weathering Colorado’s Winter Roads: 12 Tips for Youtubers, Snowbirds, & Everyone in Between”

As Colorado’s #1 Personal Injury Attorney, our team at Legal Help In Colorado has seen all kinds of car accidents and the damage they can cause. We usually help you after the accident, but ideally, we want to help prevent any accidents. Winters in Colorado usually bring snowy, slick conditions that are not ideal for driving. We’ve gathered 12 tips to help keep you and others safe on the roads. The bottom line is to drive slowly and use caution. We want everyone to be safe out there!

  1. Keep Your Tires up to Date
    1. Winter roads and freezing conditions have one major thing in common: ICE. While the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) does its best to keep the streets plowed and spread with de-icer, as drivers we should also do our part to keep ourselves and others safe on the road this winter. Make sure you check the tread on your tires and replace them before the normal wear and tear becomes dangerous. As tires become more worn they lose their ability to grip the road. This makes slippery conditions even harder to drive in and increases your chances of losing control of your vehicle.
  2. Give yourself X-tra time to Travel
    1. Holiday Parties, gift exchanges, and family gatherings are just the time of the iceberg. While there are countless things to do, it’s better to take your time. Taking your time can help you get there safer. Winter road conditions often call for you to drive slower than you normally would. So giving yourself extra time prevents you from rushing and driving too fast given the road conditions.
  3. Watch for Deer
    1. In the Winter more and more Coloradans are heading for the slopes. In the mountains and on the plains, deer move around more in the winter. This is to keep warm and search for food. In the winter it is more likely a deer will come across your path. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, especially in areas marked with signs. Try to drive slower in these areas and give yourself plenty of space to avoid any potential deer or elk.
  4. Turn off Cruise Control
    1. Cruise control is great, especially for long journeys. However, cruise control is not the answer in the snow. Cruise control will often cause your car to accelerate quickly to get to the desired speed. In the winter it is always a bad idea to accelerate or brake too quickly. This will increase your chances of slipping, sliding, or hydroplaning. It’s best to let yourself be in charge of the speed. Accelerate and break gently to reduce slipping.
  5. Have Emergency Supplies in your Car Ready
    1. Being stranded in your car is awful, and it can be even worse in the winter. It is a good idea to be prepared for anything. Kits of emergency supplies can help you out of a sticky situation. You can either buy or make your own kit with things like drinking water, food, first aid supplies, car fluids, and maintenance equipment. This will help you to fix your car on the roadside and/or help keep you safe and comfortable while you wait for help. Stay prepared! Look into collecting the proper supplies to help keep you safe.
  6. Replace your Wiper Blades
    1. One of the essential parts of getting your car ready for the winter is having proper windshield wipers. Old wipers can cause streaks which can make it even harder to see. Another tip: don’t use them on ice as that will reduce their life span and efficiency. Also, make sure your windshield wiper fluid is not too low. The fluid is an important part of maintaining good visibility and keeping your windshield clean.
  7. Use AWD or FWD
    1. While Colorado is beautiful all year round, driving on our unique terrain requires unique driving standards. In front-wheel drive (FWD) cars, the engine gives power to the front axle for turning the wheels. In all-wheel drive (AWD) cars the engine gives power to both the front and back wheels at the same time. These modes are optimal for driving in the snow. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) cars usually are lighter so it makes it more difficult to accelerate in icy conditions. This also increases the chances of losing control of the rear end of the car. If you can drive with AWD or FWD, do it. If your car is only RWD we recommend adding weight to the back end of the car. It puts weight on the axle which gives more grip to the tires. Be gentle with the brake and gas pedals, and make sure your tires are winter ready.
  8. Keep your Car Insurance Agent’s Number close at Hand
    1. If you ever get into an accident or need roadside assistance, your insurance company is one of the first people you should call. You never want to be without this number. We recommend keeping a paper copy and a digital copy. Many insurance companies will provide their number on your insurance card which is in your car anyways. If they don’t have their number on your insurance card, we recommend you have it written down on a piece of paper you keep in your car. You should also consider having a digital copy. Whether you save the number in your contacts, take a picture of the phone number, or have it written in your notes, make sure you always have access to these numbers. They can help connect you to resources for roadside assistance, tow trucks, and file a claim.
  9. Don’t Overcorrect if you Start to Swerve
    1. To be safe on ice we recommend practicing driving in icy conditions in a safe environment like an empty parking lot. Become familiar with how the anti-lock brake system (ABS) works and feels like in your vehicle. Also, remember to stay calm! Next, you will keep the steering wheel straight and take your foot off the gas. Try not to hit the brakes. If you feel the back of your car going right or left use your steering wheel to gently go in that direction. If you try to go against it you can start to skid or even spin out. Also, another good tip for hitting ice is to reduce the gear you’re in if you can. If you do end up skidding or spinning out, put your foot on the break if you have ABS. Apply firm pressure and the car will automatically pump the brakes for you. If you don’t have ABS, pump the brakes as gently as possible. Steer the car in the direction you want to go. Try to find a safe place to steer if you end up going off the road.
  10. Respect the Snowplows
    1. Without the big, orange snowplows our roads would be a mess. These snowplows help get snow off the road and put down de-icer. These trucks need space to do their work. They tend to drive on the slower side to thoroughly get the snow off the road and de-icer or salt on the road. If you follow too closely, you can get the de-icer and ice mixture on your windshield which can damage your car. Also, they may need to make sudden stops. Give them at least 3-4 car lengths of space.
  11. Ice will Hide in Plain Sight
    1. Even if the road seems “fine,” there might be some hidden ice. Black ice is the ice you can’t see because it is a transparent layer over the road. Know where to expect black ice so you can be cautious. Black ice usually forms during the coldest parts of the day, in areas where there isn’t a lot of sunshine, and on bridges/overpasses. Bridges will ice over first because the cold air can cool the road from both below and above. Remember to express an abundance of caution in these types of conditions.
  12. Just because your Car Can, Doesn’t Mean you Should
    1. Don’t get too overconfident in icy, winter conditions. Just because you have brand-new tires or a car that drives with all-wheel drive doesn’t mean you are invincible. Just because your car could theoretically go the speed limit during a storm, doesn’t mean you should. Even if you have been driving in snow for your whole life, use caution! Accidents happen all the time. Plus, you can only control how you drive in the snow, not others. The best advice for driving in the winter is to go slow and be careful.

If you are injured in a car accident, whether or not it was during the snowy months, call our office at 303-357-2567 or contact us here.

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