As a family-owned and operated personal injury law firm, Auger & Auger would like to see all of our clients and their families driving safely year-round. Having chosen South Carolina as your home or vacation spot will likely be a decision you will treasure. However, in the winter we all need to be on high alert whenever we are operating a vehicle — whether our destination is a few blocks or a few hundred miles away.
According to the Department of Natural Resources graphic below, the entire state of South Carolina has somewhere between a 10-90% chance of annual snowfall. There’s little doubt that you’ve experienced driving on snow-covered roads more than a handful of times. Maybe you make it your mission to avoid driving in challenging weather, but perhaps you’ve had no choice but to brave the elements for work or school.
South Carolina Department of Transportation maintains the 4th largest state highway system in the U.S.; with over 41,000 miles of road, including 851 miles of interstate. With a population exceeding 5 million in 2017, and some of the busiest over-the-road shipping routes in the United States, the risks are certainly higher than average for fender benders and even serious collisions. So, why not increase the probability of safe travel by taking every precaution you possibly can?
Make Preparation a Habit
Check in at South Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Real Time Traffic Information page for your county before starting out. You can also set alerts on your electronic devices, choosing from a variety of traffic and weather alert sites.
Let a friend or family member know your travel plans and set a check-in time; if your whereabouts aren’t known, then nobody will be looking for you. Be sure to keep a list of emergency contacts and prescribed medication in your wallet or purse; when first responders look for your ID, they will find this important information as well.
Include extra dry clothing and warm blankets, in case you get stuck in a roadblock for hours. Bringing along a gallon or two of bottled water and a few non-perishable healthy snacks could even save a life.
Clear off standing snow and ice from your car; as you make your way down the road, the snow can slide off the roof of your car and become a hazard.
Vehicle Settings Checklist
Whether you have front-wheel or 4-wheel drive, don’t rely on this to control the vehicle for you! If you’re equipped with ESC (Electronic Stability Control), and it is ON, this can help you if the vehicle begins to lose traction.
Check that all your lights are working, and coverings are cleaned off. Keep the lights on for daylight trips, as well as night, to make certain you are visible to other motorists. Be aware that haze and fog can block your visibility considerably. If you can barely see the car in front of you, pull over in a safe place until it clears.
Clean your windshield regularly; this is your window on the world and dirt or debris can impede your vision entirely. If you are not able to see through the back of your car, or the side mirrors are iced over or fogged up, you shouldn’t be driving.
A-C-T versus R-E-A-C-T
You are not in a bubble; keep your eyes focused on the traffic in front of your vehicle, and regularly check side and rear view mirrors. Don’t let your mind wander. Keep your hands on the wheel, not the kids or the dog; not your cell phone or your navigation device.
If you’re driving at 55 mph, in just the few seconds it takes to change your radio dial you will have traveled the length of a football field! Stay in the mental space where you can react immediately if necessary to save yourself and others from an impact.
Remember that road conditions are constantly changing, from day to night and sunlight to shade! These paved areas will freeze over before others:
- Roads less traveled
- Overpasses and bridges
- Areas in the shade
Slow down whenever there is visible snow, sleet or puddles of rain on the roadway. Give yourself extra time for braking at intersections and areas where the traffic is merging. Black ice is especially dangerous; it is hard to see it at night and can appear to be mere puddles in the daylight.
Take Precautionary Moves
If your vehicle begins to slide, steer into the skid and take your foot off the gas; pump the brakes gently (with anti-lock brakes apply steady pressure).
Keep your eye out for abrupt movements by other cars and trucks; a split-second of time may allow you to avoid a collision. Be aware that hasty decisions while driving on ice or snow can cause you to lose control of acceleration, braking, and steering.
Stay out of the box – where you have cars on either side as well as in front and back of you — so you have room to make an evasive move if necessary. Many crashes result from a driver trying to avoid being struck by one vehicle, then running into another.
Don’t take the other driver’s turn signals for granted — we’ve all seen people go left with their right signal on, or vice versa, or leave the light blinking far after their intended turn. Will they turn at the next exit, or not? Assume they are not paying attention, and steer clear of them.
Road Etiquette vs. Road Rage
Do not be a tailgater. Without 3 car lengths between you, not only is there no room to stop, but you are stressing out the driver in front of you needlessly. Take your time, change lanes safely and find a new position. Crawling up within inches from someone’s bumper, veering around them, and making gestures can put everyone around you at risk.
It is critical that you make driving decisions based on knowledge and experience, weather and traffic density. Of course, you need to be fully awake, alert, and in control – but not controlling. We’ve all seen drivers swerve around others to get to a stop light first! Don’t be that person.
Stop at a diner for a light meal or take a short walk outside and stretch your legs. Engage someone in a conversation or a friendly chat. Breathe in, breathe out, and get your wits about you before sliding back into that driver’s seat. Relax, be thoughtful of others, taking the time your trip and the road conditions require. Get there safely, and let others do the same.
Auger & Auger is HERE for YOU!
Should you or a loved one be involved in an accident on a South Carolina roadway, rest assured that you have a ready, willing and able law firm in your corner! Give us a call 24/7 at to discuss the collision, and we will begin collecting the evidence required to see that you get the compensation to which you are entitled.