In Seattle, heavy snow occurs so infrequently that the city government is wholly unprepared for the conditions that come about because of a blizzard. As a result, Seattle drivers should exercise much more caution than usual when operating a motor vehicle in heavy snow or even rain. These are a few tips intended to help our clients navigate safely when driving in inclement weather.
The Single Best Piece of Advice for Driving in Snow Storms
Our number one tip for driving in a snowstorm is a very simple one: don’t do it. If drivers absolutely don’t have to go out, it is wise to just stay home. Once again, Seattle doesn’t get a lot of snow so if it’s anything that can be put off for a day or two, by all means, reschedule it and stay off of the roads. But if putting off travel isn’t an option:
Three Rules For Driving Safely in Snowy Conditions
- Double the distance from the cars in front of your vehicle. Just because you may be familiar with driving in snow or bad weather or at least think you are, or are lucky enough to have simply never had a bad experience, understand that not everyone is in that same boat. Not everyone has the same skills or the same type of stopping ability. That extra distance gives you options if you are inadvertently caught in a bad situation and have to act.
- Beware of hills and hilly areas. It is good to have a solid idea of your vehicle’s braking ability, especially in snow or ice. Four-wheel drive is good for getting you up a hill but doesn’t help much for braking. We have all seen the viral videos of motorists have found themselves unable to stop on the downgrade of a hill. That is the wrong time to realize you have been going too fast, or that your brakes aren’t what they could be.
- Clear your vehicle of snow, including the roof and the hood before driving. That snow will go somewhere once the car starts moving. Snow and ice flying from cars create a serious potential hazard for both the operator of the vehicle and every other driver on the road alike.
In bad weather, do everything differently as it relates to being on the road. Work from an abundance of caution, and treat conditions for what they are. Drivers are going to run into unexpected slippery spots. Because of black ice, these slippery spots may simply not be visible. Black ice is a somewhat viable legal defense in Washington state.
If you encounter black ice you had no idea you were on, and accidentally hit someone or something, it may not necessarily be considered a negligent event. But as with any collision, it will still be a huge problem, so please be very, very careful for yourself, and for your fellow motorists.