Knoxville, Tennessee is known for having a fairly mild year-round climate. Even so, driving safely always requires diligence. When you factor in challenging weather situations such as fog, rain, or snow, it can test your skills as a driver. We are fortunate in this part of the country not to experience harsh winter weather patterns as some of our neighbors to the north do, but preparing for seasonal road conditions is essential nonetheless.
Be a Proactive Driver in Colder Temperatures
Here are some tips we recommend for drivers in the Knoxville area:
- Keep a fair amount of fuel in your tank. This will allow you to keep your heat on in the case you become stranded in cold weather or snow.
- Check your tire’s air pressure frequently since they can lose more pressure in colder weather.
- Check your battery late in the fall season to make sure it has enough strength remaining to get you through the winter.
- Always dress for the weather and keep a survival kit for cold weather in your car. It should contain a tow rope, cat litter to provide additional traction if needed, warm blankets, an ice scraper, and perhaps most importantly, a phone charger so you have the battery power to make an emergency call.
- Switch your windshield wiper fluid to one specifically made for cold weather.
- Let at least one person know where you are going and when you expect to return home.
Avoid allowing your car to run for longer than two or three minutes and don’t rev your engine when the weather is cold. Both activities can cause damage to your engine.
How to Drive When It’s Snowing
Driving at high speeds in snowy weather is a leading cause of accidents involving spin-outs and collisions with other vehicles. However, you don’t want to drive so slowly that your vehicle gets stuck in the snow or you irritate other drivers. Just drive a bit slower than you normally would to give yourself extra time to react. Also, try leaving a bit early for necessary commutes. If possible, avoid stopping or turning suddenly and drive in low gear when traveling downhill if your car is not equipped with an automatic transmission.
Unfortunately, slips and skids still occur even when you drive slowly and with caution. If you feel yourself losing control of your car, avoid the temptation to slam on your brakes. It’s better to slow your vehicle down by removing your foot from the gas pedal, giving you greater control. Maneuver your steering wheel in the same direction of the skid to prevent completely losing control of your car and causing it to go into a spin-out.
Should Knoxville experience heavy snow, make sure you inspect your car’s tailpipe before getting in it to drive. The snow can clog it and push unhealthy levels of carbon monoxide into the cab of your vehicle. Make sure you’re never without a snowbrush in case it snows while your car is parked outside in the elements. Remove, all snow from your car’s windshield, back and side windows, and the top of the vehicle. Don’t forget to brush snow off your license plates so they remain visible.
Driving During Fog or Heavy Rain Conditions
If heavy fog sets in before your commute, check the windshield wipers and defroster of your vehicle to make sure they work as expected. We also encourage you to reduce your speed, increase your following distance, and frequently look in your rearview mirror to ensure that you can spot vehicles coming up behind or in front of you.
During heavy rain, the tires of your car can lose the traction they have with the surface of the road. This is known as hydroplaning. The best way to prevent an accident or spin-out is to take your foot off the gas pedal and allow your car to naturally slow down. Avoid braking or turning the steering wheel as this can lead to skidding. Of course, it’s best to prevent being in the situation where your car starts to hydroplane by inspecting the tread on your tires often.
When in Doubt, Stay Home
If weather officials in Knoxville issue a travel warning, please delay any unnecessary driving. However, we do recognize there are times when you must drive regardless of weather conditions and you expect other people to drive as carefully as you do. When that doesn’t happen, and you become an accident victim instead, contact our personal injury law firm to learn more about pursuing your right to financial compensation.