Dallas is better known for its mild winters and scorching summers, but city residents know that cold snaps can be frequent visitors. And while a lot of winter safety driving tips focus on snow and cold temperatures, drivers all across Texas need to be aware of another winter danger: freezing rain. And because driving in freezing rain leads to accidents, make sure your car insurance is up to date before you get out there.
What is Freezing Rain?
In colder weather, most precipitation starts as snow when it falls. But sometimes, warm air above the ground melts that snow and turns it into rain. If the air near the ground is cold enough, the rain immediately freezes into ice when it hits the surface.
If you’ve ever walked out after a freezing rainstorm, you know that the aftereffects can look eerie and beautiful as everything is transformed into an icy wonderland. But with that beauty comes real danger as trees, power lines, and roofs struggle to bear the weight of all that ice.
So, what should you do the next time there’s freezing rain in the forecast? While the safest option is always to stay home, we know it’s sometimes impossible to avoid hitting the road, even in the worst road conditions. That’s why we’ve put together these three essential winter safety driving tips so that you’ll know what to do when driving in freezing rain in Dallas.
What to Do in Freezing Rain in Dallas: 3 Winter Safety Driving Tips
1. Drive Carefully
Of course, it’s important to be a careful driver every day and especially when driving at night or in bad weather. But driving in freezing rain in Dallas brings its unique challenges.
First, any slick conditions will increase your car’s braking distance. When following other vehicles and approaching traffic lights and stop signs, keep this in mind. Since layers of ice can build up over headlights and taillights, you may not be able to rely on brake lights alone to know when the car in front of you is slowing down.
Second, freezing rain causes black ice — shiny sections of the road that look like liquid water but are actually slick patches of ice. Even the most careful drivers can find themselves suddenly losing traction and control of their car. Slow down before driving over anything that looks like a puddle, and don’t make any sudden turns or lane changes.
Third, ice build-up can make your car heavier and harder to operate. In particular, you may find that your headlights don’t work as well if there’s ice covering them. Resist the urge to turn on your high beams, which may reduce your visibility. That’s because the light from your high beams can reflect off of rain and ice in front of you, making it harder to see. Instead, use your fog lights.
Freezing rain can also build on your windshield wipers. If your windshield wipers aren’t working well or are too frozen to work at all, pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so (more below on being stranded with your car).
Remember that black ice and other conditions caused by freezing rain won’t help you avoid responsibility for an accident. In Texas, you can be held liable for negligently driving if you lose control of your car for any reason. That’s why it’s so important to drive carefully during freezing rain in Dallas and follow basic winter safety driving tips.
2. Stay With Your Car if You’re Stranded
You’re driving along in the freezing rain and doing well when something suddenly happens. Perhaps your car battery dies — a common issue in cold weather. Or maybe your windshield wipers just can’t keep up with the ice, and you need to pull over. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to stay with your car until you get help or it’s safe to drive again.
Leaving your car on the road or highway is dangerous for other drivers, even if you’ve made it to the shoulder of the road. Remember that other Dallas drivers are dealing with the same slick conditions as you, and an extra obstacle on the road makes it more likely that there’ll be an accident that can hurt other people and damage your car.
In addition, if you leave your car on the side of the road for more than 24 hours in Texas, it can get towed. After that, you’ll be responsible for picking it up and paying the tow fees.
If you do find yourself stranded in your car, the first thing you should do is call your roadside assistance service for help on what to do next. Roadside assistance services can jump-start your battery or tow your car to a safer place like a gas station, mechanic, or even your home.
3. Pack a Winter Emergency Kit to Keep in Your Vehicle
It’s a good idea to keep an “emergency” kit in your car at all times, but particularly if you will be out and about during extremely cold weather. The items in your kit should be checked and, in some cases, replaced every six months.
For winter driving, you’ll want to make sure you can keep yourself and anyone else in your car warm if something happens and you end up stranded in your vehicle. Some things you might consider packing include:
- Blankets or a sleeping bag
- Extra socks in case your feet get wet
- Water and something to snack on, such as protein bars
- Extra charger for your phone
If you want to protect yourself and your car from the worst-case freezing rain scenarios, make sure to be prepared.
Know What to Do in Freezing Rain in Dallas
Freezing rain can be scary for Dallas drivers, but the good news is that there are ways to stay safe on the road. By following these simple winter safety driving tips, you can instantly reduce the chances of an accident or injury due to freezing rain.
But the best way to protect yourself and your car from accidental winter-related damage is to make sure that you have the right auto insurance policy that includes collision and comprehensive coverage with Baja Auto Insurance. All it takes is a few minutes for an online quote for Dallas car insurance. Or, feel free to visit one of our local offices or give us a call at (800) 401 6870.