It is always best to avoid driving during inclement weather. Severe weather events in New Jersey are very common and can occur at any time. Severe weather typical to NJ includes high winds, tornadoes, thunderstorms, hailstorms, and extreme temperatures. In our area in Mercer County in winter we frequently see icy rain and sleet in addition to snow events, making the roads quite slick and dangerous. If you must drive, make sure your vehicle is operating safely and stay informed on weather conditions.
Being Prepared Includes
General Severe Weather Driving Tips
- Always wear your seat belt (and your passengers too!)
- Allow extra time to get to your destination! That includes time to clear off your vehicle as well as driving time. NJ state law requires that snow and ice be cleared from the windows, roof, trunk and hood to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Allow extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Slow down. You can't expect to drive as if there are no inclement road conditions | Increase your following distance. Adjust your speed for conditions. Match the flow of traffic | Look out for slick spots/ice.
- Don't wait until the last moment to abruptly apply the brakes. If driving on snow or ice, start slowly and brake gently.
- If you start to skid, ease off the gas pedal or brakes carefully. Then steer into the direction of the skid until you regain traction and then straighten your vehicle. If you have antilock brakes, apply steady pressure.
- Expect decreased visibility | Give yourself more visibility. Drive with headlights set on dim or use fog lights | In rain, fog, snow or sleet, stay within the limits of your vision. If you can’t see clearly you should elect to pull off to the side of the road and stop.
- Slow down when approaching bridges and overpasses as they freeze first.
- Exercise care near other vehicles on the road:
- Passing a vehicle in low visibility is not a good idea. There may be vehicles ahead you cannot see.
- Take extra care around snowplows. Do not drive too close behind a plow as they may be spreading salt. When approaching a plow coming at you, allow plenty of room for it to pass. Its blade may cross the centerline.
- Be careful when you approach any special low visibility hazards such as a cloud of snow that obscures the road, especially on passing lanes of interstates or freeways. A snow plow may be ahead clearing the lane or preparing to turn around.
- Be careful after any minor accident. If you are bumped from behind and do not feel comfortable exiting your vehicle, motion to the other driver and drive to the nearest safe place to stop, such as a 24-hour store.
- Turn back and seek shelter if conditions become threatening.
- Don't use your phone or get distracted. While distracted driving is always dangerous, it is especially dangerous in bad weather.
If You Become Stranded
Follow these standard stranded vehicle procedures:
- Pull off the road as far as possible if you break down. The low visibility and poorer vehicle control from other vehicles are your greatest safety threats.
- Stay with your vehicle. Not only do you exposure yourself to the poor weather conditions, but you may become lost/disoriented out on the road.
- Call for help if you have a cell phone.
- Display a trouble sign. Attach the brightly colored cloth from your emergency kit to your car's antenna.
- Run the engine and the heater for 10 minutes each hour. This gives you a chance to warm up.
- Clear snow away from the exhaust pipe and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Turn on your vehicle's interior light to make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts added strain on the heart. Shoveling snow or pushing the car in freezing temperatures can cause a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.
- Watch out for hypothermia or frostbite:
- Hypothermia signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory lapses and drowsiness.
- Frostbite symptoms include numb or pale fingers, toes, nose and ears.
- Warm the torso area first and work outward, finishing with the extremities. Use a blanket. Occasionally moving arms and legs will stimulate circulation