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Proper Braking Techniques for Snowy and Icy Weather

By Cleveland Personal Injury Attorney on September 15, 2023

A snowy road with lots of cars also coated in snow.

Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the top seven snowiest cities in the U.S., according to a report on Fox Weather. We usually get 63.8 inches of snowfall annually. This is due to our city’s location on the banks of Lake Erie. Chilly air flowing over the relatively warm lake picks up moisture and dumps it on Cleveland as snowflakes. In an area that gets so much snowfall, safe driving in snowy or icy conditions is critical. Knowing how to brake correctly on snow and ice can help prevent accidents and injuries.

Challenges of Snowy and Icy Roads

Driving can be a challenge on snowy or icy roads. Winter weather conditions reduce traction and increase stopping distances, which can lead to accidents. It is best not to drive at all in snow or ice if you can avoid it. If you must drive, wait for the snowplow and sand truck to do their jobs, allow extra time to reach your destination, and adapt your driving behavior to existing road conditions.

Tips for Braking in Snowy or Icy Conditions

  • Drive slowly on snow and ice. Even on the highway, you should not exceed 45 mph.
  • Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one ahead – three times as much as usual – to allow yourself enough room to stop.
  • When you must slow down or stop, start early and pump standard brakes gently to help prevent skidding.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump the brakes; push the pedal firmly.
  • Be consistent in the amount of pressure you apply and decelerate slowly.
  • Use threshold braking if your car does not have anti-lock brakes.

Threshold Braking for Vehicles Without Anti-Lock Brakes

Most newer vehicles have anti-lock brakes. If your car does not, use threshold braking to help prevent your wheels from locking, which could send you into a slide or skid. Keep your heel on the floor so you are pushing the brake with your foot instead of your leg for better control. Apply firm, steady pressure to the brake pedal with your foot. Keep the pressure even and stop just short of causing the brakes to lock – you should feel feedback in the brake pedal at a certain threshold. If you pass the threshold and feel the car start to skid, curl your toes to relieve a bit of pressure from the brakes. Once the car starts to gain traction action, smoothly apply pressure again until you reach the threshold.

Role of Anti-Lock Braking Systems

Anti-lock braking systems prevent your wheels from locking up and make it easier to steer when you need to brake on snow or ice. When you have to brake, react quickly and let the system work. Push down firmly on the brake pedal. It is normal to feel the pedal shudder slightly against your foot. This means the anti-lock brake system relieves some of the pressure from the wheels to keep them from locking. Do not pump the brakes or remove your foot from the pedal.

Consult with an Experienced Cleveland Winter Weather Car Accident Attorney

Even with safe driving practices in winter weather, accidents can still happen. If you have been injured in a crash that was someone else’s fault, speak with an experienced Cleveland car accident attorney about a claim for compensation.

At George Mineff, Jr., Attorney at Law, we have been in business since 1984. Our Cleveland attorneys have been rated Distinguished by Martindale-Hubbell and recognized by Super Lawyers. We have a history of success for our clients.

Your initial consultation with us is free— call (216) 621-3930 today for assertive and responsive legal representation.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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