HOUSTON - We don't get snow and ice often in Texas, so many drivers aren't experienced in preparing for and driving in those conditions.
The experts at Meyerland Collision Center in Houston see the wreckage that results when drivers start slipping on icy roads.
"I was nervous for myself, and I was nervous about how many people could possibly be injured," Amber Laboyd of Meyerland Collision recalls from her days as a tow truck driver during snow and ice storms.
She also recalls what it was like as a driver on an icy trip into work that took two hours.
"I was terrified, I was scared. I don't think I've ever gripped my steering wheel so tight. I know my hands ached after I got to my destination because I was gripping it for so long," she told us.
Adam Abutair, the owner of Meyerland Collision, says drivers should make sure their vehicles are ready for icy, cold weather by replacing the battery every two or three years and checking for corrosion.
"A simple way to check is corrosion, like you see here, and just cleaning that off every once in a while can really help eliminate a dead start," said Abutair.
And check your oil, anti-freeze, and coolant. He says don't use water for coolant, as some Texas drivers do, because it can freeze.
"Most cars have a secondary container like this one. This one is missing the cap, but this is where you would check your coolant and you can see a fill level at the bottom. That's where you want it to be," said Abutair.
He says to make sure your tires are inflated to the proper air pressure and have good tread.
"In this example here, it's almost flat, as you can see there's almost no tread. This is obviously not a good tire to be in this weather in," he said, showing us an older tire.
Then he showed us a newer tire, saying, "This is how your tire should be. You can see it's very healthy, got a lot of rubber on it."
Drivers can prepare for getting stuck in cold weather by putting a blanket, snacks, and water in their car. Make sure your cell phone is charged or have a charger with you.
The best way to avoid an accident is to stay off the roads.
But when drivers are involved in a crash in snow or ice, Abutair says the worst mistake people make is getting out of the car to survey the damage. He says that leaves them vulnerable to being hit by other cars in a pile-up.
"They get out of their car to see what's going on and there's a pile-up of cars. Now it's turned from a minor accident with some body damage, to where someone is in the hospital," he said.
Here are a couple of other tips from driving experts:
- Leave 600 feet, or about six car lengths, between your vehicle and one ahead of you.
- If you hit ice, don't accelerate or slam on the brakes.
- If you have anti-lock brakes, just press gently. The brakes will do the work for you.
- If the rear of your car starts sliding in one direction, gently steer into the same direction.