Snow and Ice Driving Tips as Bad Weather Heads for Hampton Roads

By Bill O'Mara, Virginia Injury Lawyer

With a mess of snow, ice and sleet forecast for Hampton Roads and Virginia in the next few days, it’s time to ask yourself if you are ready for bad weather driving and to follow the ABCs.

The residents of Virginia are becoming accustomed to this kind of thing after two bad winters but that doesn’t mean we are very good at driving in them. Of course, the best advice I can give is stay off the roads if possible.


Virginia and North Carolina have both declared states of emergency ahead of the big snow fall that’s expected on Friday. A light snowfall on Wednesday night and Thursday morning caused chaos and 767 snow-related crashes in a 24-hour period in Virginia.

Officials say drivers should stay off the roads and at home during dangerous winter conditions. If you really have to travel – and we don’t recommend it - AAA, VDOT and Virginia State Police have issued tips.

Here’s how you follow the ABCs of bad weather driving.

  • Allow a lot more time for your trip. Leave earlier than you usually would when icy conditions are possible. Other cars skidding may cause accidents and you should not be rushing.
  • Brake slowly and carefully. Sudden and jerky motions increase the risk of going into a skid on ice. Breaking slowly will also avoid locking up your brakes. If go into a skid, keep your foot off the brakes and accelerator and never shift gears. Look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. If your car isn’t equipped with anti-lock brakes, squeeze the brake pedal with your toes, and ease off the pressure once you feel the wheels begin to lock. Never use cruise control in icy conditions.
  • Consider leaving more space. The average following distance you should keep between you and the car in front in favorable weather conditions is 3 to 4 seconds. On slick and icy roads at least 6 to 8 seconds of following distance is recommended. If the car in front of you brakes suddenly or slides you need a Plan B.

Dangers to Watch out for in Cold Weather

Black Ice

It’s called black ice because it blends in with the road. If you look carefully, an area with black ice, will be slightly darker than the rest of the road surface.

Bridges and Overpasses

Exposed areas of road with cold air beneath them like bridges and overpasses freeze first. You should use extra caution because the roadway leading up to a bridge may be fine but the span itself could be a sheet of treacherous ice.

Stopped Traffic

You should be vigilant about the potential dangers of traffic on the road ahead. Fish tailing cars or cars facing side-on as well as brake lights are a sign of trouble ahead.

Virginia State Police point out law requires headlights to be on when windshield wipers are in active use.

Make sure you are aware of your location to give to an emergency dispatcher to include the direction you are traveling in, in case you need emergency response. Exit numbers or mile markers on the interstate can be used as a point of reference.

If you encounter an emergency vehicle, make sure to abide by Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires drivers to move over a lane or pass an emergency vehicle slowly if they are not able to move over. Tow trucks with orange lights are also classified as emergency vehicles under the law.

You should also make sure your car is ready for winter. See our top tips on winterizing your car in Virginia.

See or dial 511 from any phone for real-time traffic information and road condition reports or visit for the latest snow reports or reports of road closures. If you are injured due to the actions of a driver in poor weather conditions, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.

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