Last night we had the first snowfall for the year, unusually early since this usually occurs in late November. So it was a bit of a surprise for me to look out the window when I woke up and see the snow-covered ground. But it was no surprise to turn on the radio and to hear of numerous car accidents all around the town during the morning commute to work, snarling up traffic.
It seems like over the year some people completely forget how to drive in snow or icy conditions and go barreling along as if the snow does not change anything. The basic fact of physics is that snow and ice reduces the coefficient of friction dramatically, making maneuvers that are safe on dry surface quite dangerous.
Basic winter driving safety practices consist of turning on your headlights whenever it is snowing or raining, keeping a safe distance, not making sharp turns except at low speed, avoiding abrupt changes in direction, avoiding sudden accelerations, and minimizing the use of brakes (driving in a lower gear is a good way of doing this). All these measures (except the lower gear) are recommended at all times but become particular important in winter driving.
During the first few days of winters I drive particularly carefully because I know for a fact that the change in weather will not have registered in the consciousness of some drivers. I keep an eye out for drivers who weave in and out of traffic or are driving too fast and too close to other cars because these are the real dangers, not so much the weather. I suspect that after these drivers have had a few close calls, they begin to realize that it is winter and that they need to be more careful.