View on a snow day after a snowstorm shut down school (Cameron Rockwell)
View on a snow day after a snowstorm shut down school

Cameron Rockwell

Driving in the Snow: Safety and Tips

January 26, 2023

Driving in the snow can be difficult, especially for new drivers. Teenagers are not as used to driving as adults, as adults have been driving more years than them, so they tend to struggle more when it comes to winter driving.

There are plenty of ways to ensure that teens, or anyone else, are driving as safely as they possibly can: starting with the speed that the person is driving. When driving on untreated or unsafe roads, it is important that people drive slow and steadily. Driving too fast can cause a loss in traction, which can very easily lead to accidents.

Another way the driver can assure they drive safely is by paying extra attention to their surroundings. They should keep their eyes on the road, but look farther ahead down the road to give themself a heads up on how the conditions of the road are down the line. They should make sure to pay more attention to other drivers as well, to make sure they won’t slide into them.

If they ever find themself starting to slip and can’t control it with just their steering, they should activate the anti-lock brakes. The majority of vehicles made in the last decade have anti-lock brakes, so all they have to do is push the brakes down and keep them that way while steering.

There are plenty of ways to avoid a crash or other issues before even getting in your car. Bell & Pollock P.C. (accident and injury lawyers) suggest some tips for avoiding such problems.

Bell & Pollock P.C. say, “Never start your car in an enclosed area and let it run to warm up, like in a garage. This can create a deadly buildup of carbon monoxide, which can kill a person without warning.”

When driving in the winter, it is always good to have supplies with them in case of an emergency. If their car were to break down or the driver were to crash or anything of the sort, it would be a safe decision if they had helpful supplies with them. The driver should always have blankets in their car to provide warmth if they break down. Make sure to have or wear warm clothes as well. It would be a good idea to keep an ice scraper and keep non-perishable snacks and water in their car as well.  It is always better to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.

For those that have all-wheel or four-wheel drive, they should not let that lead them into a false sense of security. Just because they have this extra support for driving in the snow does not mean that they will not crash or slide. They should still play it safe.

Despite accidents still being possible even if you are confident, it is a good idea to let go of those fears because you are more likely to have an accident if you are scared to drive. It is always best to have a positive mindset.

Owen Goodchild ‘23 says, “I would approach it with unfounded optimism and blind confidence in my abilities while taking the utmost care not to straight up die.”

Even if they have never had problems with driving in the snow, it is also still better to play it safe. Just because they have not had problems before does not mean they never will or that they are safe. They should always be as careful as possible. 

Crashes might not occur at their hands, but they may still get in one. The driver should pay attention to other drivers even more during these conditions to ensure they stay safe and do not get involved in crashes. 

They should always be extra careful when it comes to driving in the winter whether they are a new driver or have been driving for many years. Their safety is important and taking these precautions can help them to remain safe during these harsh driving situations.

Confidence Driving in the Snow

Everything was fine. There wasn’t even any ice on the road– it was just wet, right? Well, now the car is in a ditch and there is no telling when it will be pulled out. One of the tires is leaking air and there might be a dent on the side. All of this could have been avoidable if the driver had known more about driving in unsafe conditions.

In 2022, 139 people were killed in 130 crashes (Union Leader). Not all of these were related to bad road conditions, though. Bad road conditions and poorly-maintained roads cause “half of the fatal auto accidents that happen each year in the US.”  (Greg Coleman Law). 

High schools, such as Hollis Brookline, pose a huge risk for accidents. Every day, new drivers congregate in one spot– coming and going all at the same time. Many of these drivers have had less than a year of experience and a few are still on temporarily-issued licenses.

The lack of experience is the main issue for drivers at our school. Many students haven’t needed to drive on untreated roads or sleet before. This makes a commute that experienced drivers could make with relative ease more difficult– or simply scary for high schoolers. 

We all remember the day we should have had off– December 16th. Rain turned into snow and puddles turned into ice. There had been at least three crashes that morning– possibly up to five.

Riley Scanlon ‘23, believes we should have had that day off: “The elementary school was canceled, they don’t even drive– we should have had an early release or something”.

The chart featured in this article asks Juniors and Seniors of our school to think back to that day. They were anonymously asked how comfortable they would be driving in those conditions. If they answered one, that would mean they are not comfortable at all. A five would mean that they could do it with complete ease and confidence.

On average, three was the most common response, with two closely following.

Anna Fauteux ‘23 said, “Now that I’ve done the worst, I’m more confident”, after narrowly avoiding crashing that morning.

But how can drivers prevent accidents or damage? Human error, vehicle failures, and bad road and weather conditions are the main causes of car accidents. 

The single best thing a driver can do is prevent. Keep up wth car maintenance, refrain from driving when applicable and carpool when possible. Slow down before turns, accelerate slowly, and above all else– don’t slam on your brakes. Drive safe!

How comfortable students feel driving in Winter Conditions
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