Drivers need to take extra precautions during freezing temperatures. The Harris County Constable's Pct. 7 office and AAA Texas offer the following suggestions.
- Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top condition. Replace wipers that streak the windshield and consider using winter wiper blades that have rubber covers to prevent snow and ice buildup from impairing effectiveness. Fill the windshield washer reservoir with an antifreeze washer solvent.
- Check your antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water provides protection to -30 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make sure the battery and charging system are in good condition. Cold weather places high demands on vehicle electrical systems.
- Check your tires. Make sure they are properly inflated and that the tread is good. Snow tires have a 30 percent deeper tread than standard tires. The air pressure in tires will drop 1 to 2 psi for every 10 degrees drop in outside temperature. Under-inflation can reduce traction and damage tires.
- Carry an ice scraper.
- Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to minimize condensation that can lead to gas line freeze-up.
- Allow enough times for trips. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Slow down when driving.
- Keep your seatbelt buckled.
- Remember to avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
- Be more observant. Visibility is often limited by winter weather.
- If you should encounter ice and begin to slide, stay off your brakes. Remove your foot from the accelerator and manage your skid. Steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go. Slamming on your brakes will cause you to lose what little traction you have.
The Houston Police Department also has some advice for motorists in cold weather.
- Leave early to give yourself more time to travel, and drive slower.
- Be especially alert and drive courteously.
- Leave adequate space between your vehicle and the ones ahead.
- Watch for wet or slick spots, especially on overpasses and bridges.
- Watch for slow-moving vehicles, such as sand trucks.
- If you skid, steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go.
- Avoid lane changes and sudden stops -- be gentle with the brakes and signal when you change lanes.
- Avoid all cellphone use unless you need to make an emergency call.
If you are involved in a minor accident, you don't have to contact the police if the driver is not intoxicated and if all vehicles involved are drivable and appropriate information is exchanged.
- Your first concern should be safety.
- Use common sense, consider your choices and do the safest thing.
- Activate your vehicle's flashing lights.
- Get uninjured and slightly injured people to safety.
- Weigh whether moving the badly injured would be worse than leaving them vulnerable where they are and act accordingly. Call 911.
- Move the damaged vehicles or do what you can to ensure other drivers see the accident in time to avoid it.
The following information should be exchanged during accidents.
- Telephone numbers
- Vehicle Information (license, make, model, color)
- Insurance information (company name and policy number)
- Driver's license number
Minor accidents may be reported (within 24 hours of their occurrence) in person at your nearest HPD substation or storefront.