Shaping up to be a dangerous winter for Chicago car accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration apparently got the memo because it finally posted safe winter driving information on its website this week as the season shapes up to be one of the toughest in recent memory.The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that snowy conditions were at least partly responsible for 4,289 Chicago car accidents in 2009, injuring more than 900 motorists. Nearly 130 were injured in accidents where sleet, wind and hail were a contributing factor and almost 3,600 motorists suffered injuries in accidents involving rain.

Just last week, the Associated Press reported a woman was found dead a month after wandering into a snowy field following a Chicago car accident.

Our Chicago injury attorneys remind motorists to allow extra time to reach their destination and to practice other safe driving habits to reduce your chances of being involved in a serious or fatal auto accident.

The government offers a number of safety tips for winter driving in Chicago, including:

-Have your car serviced now. Complete routine maintenance and have hoses, tires and belts checked for repair or replacement.

-Check your battery. Cold weather requires more power to start your vehicle. Battery should be checked for sufficient voltage and charging system should be inspected.

-Cooling system should be serviced. Improper mixture can cause coolant to freeze and can severely damage your engine.

-Keep windshield washer fluid filled with “no freeze” fluid. Buy an extra bottle to keep in your vehicle.

-Check wipers and defrosters.

-Pay particular attention to tires. Keep a pressure gauge in your vehicle.

-Practice cold-weather driving. After snow, practice driving in an empty parking lot in daylight before tackling main roads.

-Drive slowly.

-In the event of a skid, stay calm, apply firm pressure if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, otherwise pump gently and steer into the skid until you regain control.

-Properly plan winter travel. Check traffic and road conditions. Don’t rush.

-Keep gas tank close to full.

-Avoid driving in hazardous conditions whenever possible.

-Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, including shovel, broom and ices scrapper, sand or kitty litter for traction, jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices, blanket, food and necessary medicine.

-Travel with a fully charged cell phone.

-If stranded, don’t overexert yourself. Stay with your car. Tie bright cloth to antenna or window. Don’t run car for long periods to avoid carbon monoxide.

-Always wear your seat belt.

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