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5 Tips to stay safe this winter on Pennsylvania roads

Colder weather and snow can make the roads dangerous for drivers but there are things they can do to lower their risk of an accident.

Winter is fast approaching, and for drivers in Bethlehem and the surrounding area, this means an increased chance of getting into a car accident. The Federal Highway Administration states that snow and slush on roads leads to over 116,800 injured victims and more than 1300 deaths throughout the United States each year. To lower the risk of getting into a weather-related accident, people should take certain precautions.

1. Slow down

Often drivers think they can continue driving at regular speeds during winter weather, but it is important for them to understand that road conditions can change fairly quickly, especially if it is starting to snow. This can result in roads that are slushy, which interferes with the car's ability to maintain normal traction. If a car ahead suddenly slams on its brakes, drivers travelling at normal speeds could find themselves in the middle of a skid and losing control of their vehicle.

2. Watch out for black ice

AccuWeather.com points out that black ice often appears when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or colder. Black ice gets its name from the fact that it is very hard to see and many drivers don't realize that they've encountered it until their car loses traction with the road. However, during the day it often will give a glossy and dark appearance. If people are driving, they should slow down on areas of the road that are protected from the sun as well as on overpasses and bridges.

3. Have tires checked

A car's tires determine the amount of control drivers will have during bad weather. Therefore, as winter weather starts to appear, they should have their tires checked to make sure that they are still in good condition. Tires that appear worn or that have low treads should be replaced as they will be unable to handle the slush and amount of water that often accumulates on roads.

4. Don't hit the pedals too hard

While a car may have the best winter tires on it, people can still lose control if they hit their gas or brake pedals too hard. The American Automobile Association recommends taking some extra time when approaching intersections. One way to do this is to simply take the foot off of the gas pedal and then gently tapping the brake a couple of times to slow the car down before applying a slow but gentle pressure to stop the vehicle. Shifting into a lower gear, even on an automatic transmission, can also lessen the vehicle's speed before the driver touches the brake.

5. Lengthen following distance

As road traction decreases, drivers should widen the distance between their vehicle and the vehicle before them. This will give them ample time to naturally slow the vehicle down and avoid sliding, if the vehicle they are following hits its brakes.

Even when drivers do all they can to keep themselves and their passengers safe, they cannot always prevent an accident from occurring. However, speaking with an injury attorney in Pennsylvania may provide them with understanding of their rights and options.