Tips for Winter Driving in Texas to Avoid Collisions, Accidents

While most Americans think of Texas as a wide expanse of desert warmed by a hot yellow sun, Texans know that the weather can change quickly. In winter, driving conditions can become treacherous, and car accidents can happen suddenly. Knowing how to drive defensively, and plan intelligently, could save your life.

Winter-weather auto accidents can result in serious injuries. Avoid the dangers by following these guidelines.

  • Check the road conditions: Go to the Texas Department of Transportation website or call (800) 452-9292 to find out the condition of the roads.
  • Get your car ready: This includes scraping snow and ice off the windows, but it also means using cold-weather windshield wiper fluid and snow tires or chains where they are allowed. Make sure that your car is in good, drivable condition.
  • Avoid snowplows: If you can, wait until the snowplows have cleared the roads. If you must drive near snowplows, keep back, be aware and don't drive through snow clouds.
  • Do not use cruise control: Using cruise control reduces your ability to stop and slow down on slippery surfaces.
  • Drive slowly: Allow room to stop on slippery roads. This will help you avoid hitting other cars and ending up in an accident that could have been prevented.
  • Be extra careful on bridges: Bridges, overpasses and shady areas are more likely to be icy. Slow down when you approach them. Keep in mind that ice is not always visible.
  • Brake and accelerate slowly: Instead of slamming the brakes when you begin losing traction, ease off the gas. When approaching an intersection, brake gently. Accelerate slowly to avoid spinning the tires. If you start to skid, take your foot off the gas pedal and steer gently in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Keep a cold-weather kit in your car: A blanket, gloves, hat, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, first-aid kit, flares, ice scraper, shovel, water and food, such as energy bars, could come in very handy.

If you become stranded, call the Texas Department of Public Safety at (800) 525-5555. Wait in the vehicle until help arrives.

If you are in an accident with another vehicle, make sure that everyone is okay. Call an ambulance and the police if necessary. Exchange insurance information with the other party, and document the accident with your cell phone and on paper. Consult an attorney if the accident was caused by another person's negligence.

Following these winter-weather guidelines could help you avoid a car accident. Drive defensively to protect yourself and other drivers.