Driving Safely in the Snow

Many Colorado outdoors enthusiasts love a fresh coat of powdery snow for their activities. For drivers who must be on the roads in bad weather, however, snow can be nothing but a headache. Skids, stalled vehicles and motor vehicle accidents can all result from the difficulties of driving on snowy roads that lack friction, but you can reduce the chances of being in an accident by following some safe driving practices.

Preparation and Driving

Safe driving begins even before your car leaves the driveway. The Colorado Department of Transportation recommends that you find out the road conditions before you leave. Clear off snow from your vehicle and your headlights, so that you will be visible, and inspect your vehicle for problems. A breakdown in bad weather can be dangerous.

When you head out on the road, turn on your headlights and keep your windshield clean so that you can see other drivers. This is especially important when falling or blowing snow reduces visibility. Further, do not use your cruise control when you are driving on ice or snow. These additional tips can improve your winter driving:

  • Allow at least three times more than the usual distance between the car and the car ahead of you.
  • Use a low gear to improve your traction, especially when driving up a hill. Apply your brakes more slowly to avoid skidding and ease off the brake if your wheels begin to lock up.
  • Use particular caution when driving in areas where black ice is likely to occur, such as overpasses and bridges.
  • Do not pass vehicles such as sanding trucks and snowplows that improve road conditions.

How to Handle Skidding

Despite your best efforts, your vehicle may skid on ice and snow. Even then, you can take steps to protect yourself. According to the National Safety Council, if your rear wheels skid you should:

  • Steer in the direction of the skid, a technique that may seem counter-intuitive to inexperienced drivers.
  • Turn your steering wheel gently over to the other side as your vehicle begins to recover from the skid.
  • Apply steady pressure if your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, but pump your brakes gently if your vehicle has standard brakes.

If your front wheels begin to skid, you should:

  • Remove your foot from the accelerator and shift your vehicle into neutral.
  • Not attempt to steer the vehicle until it begins to recover from the skid and the front wheels regain traction.
  • Steer in the direction of desired travel and shift the transmission back into a low drive gear.

What to Do if You Get in an Accident

If you get in a motor vehicle accident, you are likely already know to attend to anyone who is injured and call 911. After that, determining what to do after a car accident can be overwhelming. An experienced attorney will be able to explain your rights and evaluate your case under Colorado’s complex laws. Additionally, lawyers will often have access to experts in accident reconstruction, medicine and other areas needed to successfully resolve your case.

The Sawaya Law Firm is Denver’s personal injury law firm. With over 40 years of experience and a compassionate team prepared to listen to your story, The Sawaya Law Firm is here to help. Contact us anytime.


Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.