The Federal Highway Administration has taken a careful look at how weather events impact road safety, and has described some of the consequences of high wind; snow and sleet; icy pavement; slushy pavement and fog. Unfortunately, many of the most dangerous weather conditions occur during the winter season and it is extremely important that every driver be aware of the added dangers associated with winter weather and make smart choices about how to drive safely on the roads.
Although safe winter driving is always a good idea, the Farmers Almanac indicates that 2014 is likely to be a rough winter with a lot of extra precipitation. The so-called Polar Vortex being reported by Weather.com as sweeping the nation and causing frigid temperatures during the start of the year was not a good sign of things to come, and motorists need to be extra careful on the roadways to stay safe.
Winter Weather Creates Many Risks
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that 24 percent of the 6,301,000 vehicle crashes that occur on average each year result from adverse weather. A car accident lawyer in Denver knows that these weather-related crashes result in as many as 629,000 annual deaths. Snow and sleet reportedly accounts for four percent of all of the vehicle crashes that occur in the U.S. but are responsible for 15-percent of weather-related accidents. Icy pavement, on the other hand, accounts for three percent of vehicle accidents and as many as 13 percent of weather-related crashes.
Rain is actually more dangerous for most U.S. drivers, accounting for a grand total of 11 percent of all U.S. vehicle accidents annually and for 47 percent of the crashes that occur related to weather. This means that while most people are very concerned about the risks of snow on a winter day, you shouldn’t forget that rain during the cold months is also a risk. This is especially true if the rain starts to melt the snow and turn it into slush that your vehicle could slip on.
While the best way to drive safely in a rainstorm is to slow down and keep a careful eye on the road, knowing what to do during a winter blizzard or when the snow is falling can be a bit more of a challenge for most drivers.
- Avoiding heading out on the roads until the snow plows and sanding trucks have been through.
- Decreasing your speed and increasing your following distance on icy roads. Leave three times the space you normally would between your car and the vehicle in front of you so you have time to stop.
- Use your lights to be more visible to other motorists, and keep both your lights and your windows clean so you can see more easily.
- Switch to a low gear on hills or when you need more traction. Skip the cruise control on icy roads.
- Remember that bridges, overpasses and infrequently-traveled roads are more likely to freeze first, even if the weather conditions are above the freezing level.
- Don’t assume that your car is good in all conditions, even if you have a four wheel or front-wheel drive car.
By following these tips for safe winter driving, hopefully you can stay safe no matter how bad the weather gets.
Bell & Pollock has offices in Denver, CO. Call 800-559-5920 today to schedule a free consultation.