Winter driving can be treacherous if you are not prepared, especially in Alaska. The combination of extreme weather and remote areas can make the roadways outside of populated areas very dangerous.
For Alaska drivers, during the winter months (October-May) it is advised to follow safety guidelines aimed at keeping the roadways safe. The following tips for winter driving in Alaska come from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. These guidelines should be followed by even the most veteran Alaska drivers.
Check the National Weather Service
With the weather in Alaska being so unpredictable, you should always check the weather before heading out. The National Weather Service will issue advisories, watches, and warnings for any potential weather complications. This is especially important if you are planning on driving long distances.
Check the Alaska DOT Road Update
As well as the weather report, you should also know the status of the roads you will be traveling on. On the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities website, you will be able to see a visual representation of road conditions and alerts at 511.Alaska.gov.
During the winter months, some Alaska highways are not maintained. Through the winter, travel on these roads is strongly discouraged. Emergency services and travel assistance are not available on these roads during the winter. That makes it even more dangerous and important to know the status of the roads you will be taking.
Check Your Vehicle
You should check your vehicle at all times of the year, but during the winter months, it is imperative to make sure your vehicle is in top operating condition. The vehicle manual should have some vehicle specific information regarding winterizing, but you can also use the following list as a guide:
- Check the tire pressure
- Check the battery
- Monitor fluid levels regularly (oil, anti-freeze, windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, etc.)
- Inspect the wiper blades
- Test the brakes regularly
- Check the heat & defroster
If your vehicle is not in top operating condition, you will be at a greater risk out on the roads. With slick conditions and freezing temperatures, even small problems with your vehicle can cause serious problems. You should have your vehicle inspected before winter begins, but just as important is conducting regular checks to make sure everything is in order throughout the winter months.
Stock Your Vehicle With Winter Provisions
When it comes to inspecting your vehicle, you should also check to make sure your vehicle is prepared for an emergency. You should always have extra provisions in your vehicle during the winter months to ensure you are ready in the event your vehicle breaks down.
Some of the most important items to have in your vehicle include:
- Snow Shovel
- Cell Phone Charger
With these items in your vehicle, you will be prepared even in the case of an emergency situation.
Follow Driving Laws Carefully
Again, driving laws should be followed all year long, but in the winter months, not following driving laws carefully can have much greater consequences.
Posted speed limits are based on dry road conditions. In the winter, you should reduce your speed to ensure you are under the posted speed limit, especially when the roads are covered in snow or ice.
Keeping a safe distance between you and other vehicles on the road will give you the necessary time to stop or react to any sudden swerves or stops from other drivers. Wet and icy road conditions increase the time it takes to stop, so keeping a safe distance is the surest way to avoid an unnecessary accident.
Another important reason for keeping a safe driving distance in the winter is the increase in trucks on the road due to snow removal needs. These vehicles can cause whiteout conditions and may also stop regularly. You should stay at least 200 feet back of snow removal equipment at all times and should never pass on the right.
During the winter, you should drive with your headlights on at all times, even during the day when it is not raining or snowing.
Wear Your Seat Belt
Car accident percentages increase during the winter and wearing a seat belt can greatly reduce any injuries you suffer in a crash. It is also the law in Alaska.
Don’t Drink & Drive
Drinking and driving is never acceptable, but even having one drink and driving in the winter can cause severe consequences. While you may be under the legal BAC limit, when it comes to winter driving in Alaska, you should always have a designated driver.
Charge Your Cell Phone Fully
Before leaving your home in the winter, you should always make sure your cell phone has a full charge. In the event of an accident or a breakdown. With the unpredictable nature of the weather, you should call for help as soon as possible following any car problems. Having a fully charged cell phone will ensure you are able to reach someone in the event of a problem.
Give Yourself Extra Time
If a drive generally takes you 30 minutes in the summer, give yourself extra time in winter. With reduced speeds and poor road conditions, winter driving will take more time and you should plan for that before leaving your home. You do not want to be rushing on winter Alaska road, as this increases your chances further of getting into a car accident.
Car Accidents in Alaska
Even following all of the above tips won’t guarantee you won’t be involved in a car accident in Alaska. If you are involved in a car accident, you should contact an Alaska car accident attorney. They will assist you in navigating the complex legal system, as well as dealing with insurance companies.
If you live in the Anchorage area and were recently involved in a car accident, you should contact us at Banker Law Group. Our team of professional Anchorage car accident lawyers will help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today or give us a call at (907) 312-2006 for a FREE consultation.