When Driving on Slippery Roads: 10 Essential Safety Tips

10 Safety Tips for Driving on Slippery Roads in Milwaukee

Milwaukee often sees serious weather events. From summer thunderstorms to snow and ice in the winter, our roads can often become slippery and hazardous for motorists. Fortunately, there are certain steps that you can take to make driving on slippery roads safer, ten of which are listed below.

Importantly, slippery roads do not excuse driver negligence, so if you have been in an accident where road conditions were an issue, you may be entitled to compensation under Wisconsin law. To discuss your options with a Milwaukee car accident lawyer, contact Mingo & Yankala today.

When driving on slippery roads, you should do the following. 

1. Regularly check your windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, and signals to ensure proper operation 

Regularly checking your vehicle’s key components, such as windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, and signals, is vital for road safety. These seemingly minor elements significantly contribute to accident prevention and visibility. Keep your wipers in good condition, replacing them when they show signs of wear, especially during rainy or snowy weather. 

Maintaining clean, well-aligned headlights and taillights, along with functional turn signals, is crucial for both your vision and communicating your intentions to other drivers, reducing collision risks. A quick inspection of these components before hitting the road can go a long way in preventing accidents and ensuring your safety. Don’t underestimate the importance of these simple yet critical maintenance tasks.

2. Regularly check tire pressure and tread to ensure maximum traction and functionality

Regularly monitoring your vehicle’s tire pressure and tread depth is essential for maintaining optimal traction and functionality on the road. Proper tire maintenance not only enhances safety but also improves fuel efficiency and extends the life of your tires.

Inadequate tire pressure can lead to reduced traction, uneven wear, and even blowouts, increasing the risk of car accidents. Check your tire pressure monthly and keep it at the recommended level specified in your vehicle’s manual. Don’t forget to inspect the spare tire as well. 

Additionally, examine the tread depth by using the penny test. Insert a penny into the tire’s tread with Lincoln’s head facing downward. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tires. Well-maintained tires provide a better grip on the road, especially in adverse weather conditions, which can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents.

3. Avoid using cruise control when driving in wet or slippery conditions

Using cruise control in wet or slippery conditions can be a risky decision. It’s essential to understand that cruise control is designed for maintaining a constant speed on dry, stable roads. When driving in wet or slippery conditions, such as rain, snow, or ice, it’s best to avoid using cruise control altogether.

In these conditions, road surfaces can be unpredictable, and the need for immediate speed adjustments may arise to maintain control and safety. Disengaging cruise control allows you to have more direct control over your vehicle’s acceleration and braking, making it easier to respond to unexpected situations like hydroplaning or sudden loss of traction.

4. Avoid speeding

Avoiding speeding is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of accidents and ensure road safety. Speed limits are set based on various factors, including road conditions, traffic density, and safety considerations. Exceeding these limits not only increases the likelihood of accidents but also reduces the time you have to react to unexpected situations.

Driving at a safe, controlled speed allows you to maintain better control of your vehicle, stop more quickly if needed, and react to changes in traffic conditions or road hazards. Speeding not only endangers your life but also puts other road users at risk. Always prioritize safety over the desire to reach your destination quickly. By obeying speed limits and adjusting your speed to match road and weather conditions, you contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone on the road.

5. Keep Your Distance 

Maintaining a safe following distance is a fundamental aspect of responsible driving. It gives you adequate time to react to sudden stops or changes in traffic flow, reducing the risk of rear-end collisions. The general rule is to maintain at least a three-second gap between your vehicle and the one in front of you. In adverse weather conditions or while driving at high speeds, increase this gap to allow for a longer reaction time.

By keeping a safe distance, you provide yourself with the opportunity to brake or maneuver safely in case the vehicle in front of you makes an unexpected move. Tailgating, on the other hand, not only increases the risk of accidents but also contributes to road rage incidents. Remember that road safety is a shared responsibility, and maintaining a safe following distance is a simple yet effective way to contribute to safer roadways for all.

6. Skidding maneuvers 

When faced with a skidding maneuver while driving, it’s essential to remain calm and take specific actions to regain control of your vehicle. Skids often occur on slippery or icy roads, but they can also happen in wet conditions or during abrupt maneuvers. Here are some tips on how to handle skidding:

  • Stay calm – The first and most crucial step is to stay calm. Panicking can lead to poor decision-making. Keep a steady grip on the steering wheel and focus on regaining control.
  • Steer into the skid – If your rear tires lose traction and your vehicle starts to skid, steer in the direction of the skid. For example, if the rear of your car is sliding to the right, gently turn your steering wheel to the right. This will help you align the tires with the direction of the skid and regain control.
  • Avoid overcorrection – While steering into the skid, be careful not to overcorrect. Make small, gentle steering adjustments to prevent oversteering, which can lead to another skid in the opposite direction.
  • Brake carefully – Avoid slamming on the brakes, as this can worsen the skid. Instead, apply steady and gentle pressure to the brakes if your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS). If your vehicle doesn’t have ABS, use a gentle pumping motion on the brake pedal.
  • Recover gradually – As you regain control, straighten your vehicle’s wheels and continue driving at a safe speed for the road conditions.

Remember that practicing skid recovery techniques in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot, can help you become more confident in handling skids. Additionally, equipping your vehicle with appropriate tires for the season and driving at a safe speed for the road conditions can help prevent skidding incidents in the first place.

7. Buckle up no matter what 

Buckling up is a non-negotiable safety measure that applies to all vehicle occupants, whether you’re in the front or rear seats. This simple action significantly reduces the risk of injury or death in the event of an accident. Not only is it a legal requirement in most jurisdictions, but it’s also a critical life-saving protection. Seat belts are designed to distribute crash forces across the strongest parts of your body, preventing ejection from the vehicle and minimizing injury. Additionally, setting a good example by consistently wearing your seat belt helps create a culture of responsible driving, especially for young passengers. Remember, it takes only seconds to buckle up, but it can make a lifetime of difference in terms of safety on the road.

8. Lights 

Vehicle lighting plays a critical role in road safety, benefiting both you and your fellow drivers. Headlights, for instance, not only illuminate your path in darkness but also enhance your visibility to others. Ensure that both low and high beams are in good working order to maintain optimal visibility, particularly during nighttime driving.

Taillights, brake lights, and turn signals are equally important. Regularly inspect and replace any malfunctioning bulbs to signal your intentions effectively to drivers behind you. Faulty brake lights, in particular, can lead to rear-end collisions due to inadequate warning.

Don’t forget to check your turn signals, which are essential for safe lane changes and turns. Hazard lights also serve a critical role in warning others of potential dangers, so use them wisely when needed. By regularly maintaining your vehicle’s lights, you not only enhance your safety but also contribute to overall road safety by ensuring that your actions and presence are communicated to fellow drivers.

9. Just for emergencies 

While not legally required, being prepared for emergencies while on the road is vital for your safety. An essential component of this preparedness is an emergency kit. This kit should include a flashlight, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a versatile multi-tool or Swiss Army knife, and a whistle. These items can prove invaluable in various scenarios, from providing light during nighttime breakdowns to offering basic medical assistance if needed.

Additionally, have blankets and warm clothing in your vehicle, especially during cold weather. They can help you maintain body heat if you find yourself stranded. Non-perishable food items and water bottles are also essential. These provisions can sustain you if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period without access to food or drink.

A phone charger and a fully charged power bank are must-haves to ensure that your phone remains functional in emergencies. Lastly, reflective triangles or flares can be important to alert other drivers to your presence in case of a breakdown, reducing the risk of accidents. By keeping these emergency supplies readily available, you’ll be well-prepared to handle unexpected situations and ensure your safety until help arrives.

10. Call for help

In emergencies while on the road, never hesitate to call for help promptly. Dialing emergency services like 911 can be a life-saving action. Whether it’s a vehicle breakdown, accident, medical issue, or any other crisis, professional assistance is just a call away. Describe your location, situation, and any injuries clearly to the dispatcher, and follow their instructions. Waiting too long to request help can exacerbate the situation, so remember that timely communication can make a huge difference in ensuring your safety and the safety of others involved.

Call Us Today to Speak with a Milwaukee Car Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a car accident in the Milwaukee area, you should contact Mingo & Yankala as soon as you can. We have over 35 years of experience representing the rights of victims and have recovered millions on behalf of injured victims. To schedule a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer in Milwaukee, call our office today  (414) 273-7400 or contact us online.