From a balmy 70 degrees on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2020, to frigid temps in the 20s and 30s Tuesday night into Wednesday—so goes winter weather in the Metroplex! But this cold snap is predicted to bring something a bit more concerning than colder temperatures. According to the weather report, there is a 90% chance of a wintry mix in North Texas that could affect our morning commutes!
Our roads in Dallas/Fort Worth are known for being slippery when wet. That’s because they’re made of asphalt. When our tires hit the pits and grooves in asphalt, the friction helps them to grip the road allowing us to maintain good vehicle control. But when moisture fills those pits and grooves, it makes the road surface smoother, and there is less for our tires to grip. This is even more dangerous when temperatures freeze that moisture—which they are predicted to do overnight tonight. Conditions are made even worse when falling sleet and snow affect visibility.
Now, I know our weather forecasters don’t exactly have great track records here. What are the odds this sleet and snow will actually materialize? Well, temperatures don’t have to hit freezing for snow and sleet to form. Snow will fall at temperatures as high as 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and sleet will form at temperatures slightly above that, so it’s probably best for us to take our cue from the Boy Scouts and “Be prepared.”
- First, check today to make sure your car is in tip top shape. Check your wiper blades to be sure they are in good working order and replace them if they’re not. Be sure your tires are properly inflated and have good tread. Ideally, in wet conditions you want your tread to be over 4/32”.
- When planning your morning commute, allow extra time to get where you need to go. You may need to scrape ice off your front and back windshields, windows, and side mirrors and clear wiper blades of any debris before you leave. Once on the road, you will probably need to SLOW DOWN. Lowering your speed by just 5 mph can make a huge difference when it comes to stopping on icy roads. Reducing your speed gives your tires better contact with the road and cuts down stop time. Driving at a slower speed can also help when precipitation adversely affects visibility.
- Bone up on driving safety rules. You may know that you should leave 2 to 3 seconds of space between you and the car in front of you. Do you know how that rule changes under adverse driving conditions? It can take anywhere from 3 to 10 times longer to stop on slick roads, so allow at least 2 car lengths between your vehicle and the one in front of you. In addition, allow space so other drivers can slide into the gap in an emergency. Remember, not everyone drives more carefully in inclement weather. Be prepared to make up for others’ mistakes.
And what do you do if you hit ice? First of all, you can’t always see ice on the road—especially when visibility is hindered by falling precipitation, so it’s better to expect it than to be taken completely by surprise. Know how to use your brakes effectively if you do happen to skid. Apply firm, steady pressure to your brakes and steer toward the skid to avoid losing control. If you hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, grip the steering wheel, and then apply light brake pressure.
Now, if the weather is truly horrendous, If at all possible, STAY HOME. And if the driving conditions deteriorate while you’re out and about, find a safe place to stop your car and wait it out. Here at Accident & Injury Chiropractic, we encourage you to do everything you can to avoid getting in an accident. But remember, if you are involved in a car crash, there is an Accident & Injury clinic near you with caring doctors and staff to help you on the road to recovery.