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Beyond Slowing Down: Wintertime Driving Tips

Leave between 2 and 10 times the normal gap between you and the car ahead in order to allow for a longer deceleration.
Leave between 2 and 10 times the normal gap between you and the car ahead in order to allow for a longer deceleration.

Winter is almost here and with comes the hazards of cold-weather driving. Anyone who has completed basic driver’s education in New York knows that you need to slow down in icy weather. The rule of thumb is to reduce your speed by one-third of what you would normally drive, with 45mph being the absolute max speed. For example, if you typically do 60mph on the LIE, cut it down to 40mph when it’s snowing.

Unfortunately, slowing down is not enough. In fact, it’s a common misconception that accidents in winter are the result of careless behavior. In many cases, accidents are caused when a driver encounters ice unexpectedly, such as after a freezing rain or while crossing a bridge (where icing is more common).

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So here are some of the most practical wintertime driving tips.

  • Go easy. Be sure to accelerate and brake gently to avoid having the tires spin out on the slippery pavement.
  • Allow extra space. Leave between 2 and 10 times the normal gap between you and the car ahead in order to allow for a longer deceleration.
  • Watch where you tread. Be careful driving in the wheeltracks of other vehicles; unless the road has been sanded and salted, the compressed snow is likely icier than fresh snow.
  • Keep all hands on deck. Both hands should be on the wheel at all times regardless of the weather, but especially in the snow.
  • Ditch the distractions. Turn off your phone and the music. Distractions are far more dangerous in the snow than at any other time.
  • Give yourself extra time. Take into account how much longer it could take to arrive at your destination. Bonus: The less rushed your feel, the less likely you are to make a sudden move.
  • Bust out the sunglasses. Summer may be over, but the shades can help reduce the glare from the snow.

It’s also worth remembering is that winter tires don’t fix everything. They’re certainly worth the cost, but even the best winter tires will not have traction on ice over 45mph.

Driving too fast in icy conditions can also land you a ticket. Under New York State statute VTL 1180(a), a driver can be ticketed for imprudent speed, which is when an officer deems your rate of speed to be “not reasonable and prudent under the conditions.” The ticket can be issued even if you are going below the posted limit. There’s no particular guidance as to what qualifies as reasonable and prudent, or under which conditions the law can be applied — officers simply apply their best judgment to based on the situation. Regardless, a first offense can result in 3 points on your license, plus up to $150 in fines and a $93 court fee. A conviction could also mean up to 15 days in jail. Penalties increase for a second and third conviction in 18 months.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for driving at an unreasonable or imprudent speed for the conditions, or any other traffic citation, consult an attorney to help you avoid the costs, points, and increase in insurance premiums that can result from a conviction. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are skilled New York traffic ticket attorneys who are experienced in handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.

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