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Safety Tips for Winter Driving in Rhode Island

Winter weather can cause a wide range of problems for drivers, from slippery roads to poor visibility. Vigilance on the part of drivers is the most important factor in keeping Rhode Island roads safe during these winter months.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation and Rhode Island State Police suggest that drivers take the following precautions to stay safe.

How to Prepare for Driving During Winter in Rhode Island

  • Get a winter tune-up to ensure your car is ready for winter weather. Have your mechanic check fluid levels, brakes, the battery, lights, and heater.
  • Check your tire treads and replace worn-down tires.
  • Keep your gas tank at least a quarter-full at all times during the winter. Before a storm, fill it up completely.
  • Always watch the weather reports so you know what to expect.
  • Tell someone where you are going in case you get stranded.

How to Drive During a Winter Storm in Rhode Island

  • Only drive in a storm if you have to, and always wear your seatbelt.
  • Charge your cellphone battery fully before you leave.
  • Keep your lights on.
  • Drive slowly and keep your focus completely on the road.
  • Keep your car in lower gears when you need more traction, such as on hills.
  • Give yourself plenty of room to stop when following other vehicles.
  • Do not slam on the brakes, as this may cause skidding.
  • Do not rely on cruise control when roads are bad.
  • Try to stay on major, well-traveled roads. Do not take backroads.
  • Avoid driving near rivers and creeks because rain and snow can raise water to dangerous levels and cause unexpected erosion.
  • Do not try to drive through a flooded road. You cannot tell how deep the water is or whether the road has washed out.
  • Be cautious when driving on overpasses or bridges, which can ice over quickly. (Note: During extremely windy conditions, travel may be limited on the Jamestown Bridge, Mount Hope Bridge, Pell Newport Bridge, and Sakonnet River Bridge.)
  • Be extremely careful around downed power lines and other wires.
  • Driving behind a snow plow is a good idea, but do not follow the plow too closely. Also, do not try to pass a snow plow.

Keep These Essentials in Your Car for Winter

  • Jumper cables and a tow rope
  • Road flares and a flashlight
  • An extra cellphone battery or car charger
  • A shovel, ice scraper, snow brush, and salt
  • A blanket, an extra set of clothes, a hat, gloves, and boots
  • Information about your roadside assistance plan
  • Food and water
  • First-aid supplies and essential medications
  • Extra cash in case of a power outage
  • Small games or toys, if you have children who may become restless if you get stranded

Aftermath of a Rhode Island Winter Storm

  • Rhode Island law requires that you remove snow and ice that has accumulated on your vehicle. (Snow or ice falling from moving vehicles can create serious safety risks on the road.)
  • Do not shovel or dump snow into the street.
  • Do not “crowd” snow plows. Give them room to clear the road after a storm.
  • As snow is plowed off the streets and into snowbanks, beware of the added visual impairment as you watch for pedestrians and vehicles pulling out of driveways.
  • If you need help clearing snow, contact the United Way of Rhode Island by calling 211.

Snow Tires vs. All-Season Tires in Rhode Island

Although all-season tires are touted as being fit for winter driving, it is advisable that you invest in a set of snow tires for your vehicle. Popular Mechanics outlines the following guidelines for snow tires:

  • Buy four tires. Just using two winter tires can make for “unpredictable handling.”
  • Consider purchasing a set of affordable steel wheels for your winter tires so your alloy wheels aren’t damaged by winter road conditions.
  • Change to your snow tires near Thanksgiving, and take them off around Easter.
  • Store whatever tires you are not using in black plastic bags in a dry area.

Particularly in a winter climate like Rhode Island’s, snow tires can improve your car’s performance during a time when road conditions are at their worst. When buying winter tires, look for the snowflake/mountain symbol to ensure your choice is up to industry standards.

Most Dangerous Times to Drive in Rhode Island

Sometimes there is just no way to avoid driving in a winter storm. However, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation warns that drivers should be especially careful:

  • At the beginning of the storm, when the streets may not be treated
  • When it’s snowing heavily
  • During rush hour when congestion is at its worst
  • When the weather is shifting, such as when the rain starts to freeze and causes black ice or when snow begins to melt and causes unexpected flooding

Before you hit the road, check out the weather forecast and road conditions on the RIDOT website. You can also tune in to the Highway Advisory Radio system at 1630 AM if you need information while driving.

Common Causes of Winter Car Accidents in Rhode Island

During the winter months, some of the common causes of car accidents that our attorneys see include:

  • Speeding
  • Following too closely
  • Skidding on ice or wet pavement
  • Poor visibility due to rain, sleet, or snow
  • Worn down tires
  • Unsafe road conditions
  • Distracted driving
  • Drunk driving

No matter whether your accident was caused by a negligent driver or problematic road conditions, it is important that you discuss your compensation options with an experienced attorney.

Contact Our Rhode Island Winter Car Accident Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, do not hesitate to get the legal help you need. At Gemma Law Associates, our experienced auto accident attorneys fight for the rights of those who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. We stand strong against insurance companies that try to shortchange injured car accident victims with low settlement offers.

Some of the common types of compensation we pursue after car accidents include:

  • Payment for medical bills, both now and into the future
  • Lost wages, as well as payment to compensate for reduced earning capacity in the future
  • Damage to the vehicle
  • Compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages, which can be awarded in extreme cases to punish the at-fault party

Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our team now by calling or filling out our online form.

For decades, Rhode Island residents have counted on our dedicated car crash attorneys. Our team is committed to serving accident victims in Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, Newport, Cranston, Woonsocket, Bristol, and throughout the rest of the state.

  • Peter Gemma

    Peter Gemma is a personal injury attorney in Rhode Island, and is a Principal at Gemma Law Associates, Inc. He has over 30 years of legal experience, as well as bar admission to practice in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Peter’s specialty areas include personal injury, products liability, and construction accidents. You can reach him at peter@gemmalaw.com.

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