Interstate 95 Multi-Vehicle Crash and Winter Driving Tips
When unexpected bad weather strikes, hazardous road conditions frequently catch drivers off guard. That’s exactly what happened on January 3, 2022 as a snow and ice storm hit the Stafford County, Virginia, area as an Interstate 95 multi vehicle crash closed the interstate.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is reporting that a crash involving 6 tractor trailers closed Interstate 95 for 20 hours or more. The New York Times is reporting that “more than a full day after a snowstorm slammed into Virginia” many drivers on Interstate 95 “remained stuck in their cars on Tuesday afternoon without food or water as rescuers worked to free them.”
Interstate 95 finally opened on Tuesday night after highway workers worked to clear several hundred vehicles off the roadway.
Tips for Traveling in Winter Weather Conditions
What are the best tips for staying safe on the roadways if you encounter hazardous road conditions? Of course, the best course of action is to stay off the roads. But, sometimes staying off the roadway is not an option.
Here are a few tips which may help avoid a collision if you are driving in a hazardous weather situation:
- Drive slowly. Your tires will have less traction when driving on ice, so SLOW DOWN to account for this.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. To help regain traction and avoid skids, apply the gas gently and slowly. Start slowing down for ICY ROADS.
- Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Brake firmly and steadily. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until traffic starts moving, do it. This will help to prevent skids and difficulties caused by braking.
- Don’t try to power up mountains and hills. Applying extra gas on ice-covered roads may make your wheels spin or slide. See if you can gain a little speed before you reach the mountain hill which may help you climb the steeper roadway. As you reach the crest of the hill, you can reduce your speed and then proceed slowly down the other side.
- Downshift. If possible, use lower gears when going down the mountain or hill in icy conditions.
- Entering a curve. Once you have your car’s speed under control, enter the curve, release the brake, and turn the steering wheel without accelerating. This will allow your tires’ existing traction to steer your car. Wait until you are beginning to straighten the wheel before accelerating.
- Look ahead at where you want to end up. If there are cars spinning out in front of you, don’t stare at the cars but at any gap where you might want your car to end up. Staring at something you DON’T want to hit will DOOM you!
- If you start to slide . . . If you start to slide, knowing which tires started sliding first can be helpful. If you feel the back of the car start to slide, this is called oversteering. If this case, look to where you want to go and you will naturally steer in that direction. If the front tires start sliding and the car feels like it is going to hit the nose on the guardrail, that is called understeering. In this case, stay off the pedals, move the steering wheel back straight, and get the tires to regain grip before accelerating.
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