Winter is fast approaching and with it comes hazardous road conditions like sleet, ice, and snow.
Although these conditions are the first that come to mind, there are other hazards that occur during winter and can cause accidents or even death.
It is important to drive safely no matter the weather but especially in winter.
Recognizing hazards, understanding how they can affect you, and taking safety precautions are key to you making it home safely.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in 2018 there were 62 deaths on Alabama roadways during winter conditions. That was 15% of the 953 total traffic fatalities during that year.
The FHWA shows that snow and sleet account for just under 220,000 accidents per year resulting in nearly 700 deaths nationally.
This is alarming considering it does not include other conditions such as ice, fog, or heavy winds. The number of accidents climbs to over 2 million when ice, fog, and wet and slushy road conditions are added in.
State and local agencies spend over $2.3 billion annually on snow and ice control operations, but you can do your part too.
Safety Step 1: Vehicle Maintenance
Maintaining your vehicle is a necessary step to safe driving in winter. Checking your vehicles’ parts and systems regularly can be a lifesaver.
Brakes, tires, oil level, and engine
If your brakes squeal or are slow to respond when pressed, have them checked.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated and the treads are deep enough to grip the road during braking.
Regular oil and engine maintenance will ensure your vehicle is in peak condition as well.
Battery, electrical, exhaust, and cooling systems
Get your battery and other systems tested. Battery power drops as the temperature drops, and your vehicle’s cooling system not only provides cold air in summer but heat in winter.
If you are stranded on the road waiting for help, a properly maintained vehicle and the battery can keep you warm and provide shelter.
Prepare an emergency kit with jumper cables, emergency flares, maps, and blankets. Include snacks and water too. This kit can keep you safe and visible until help arrives.
Safety Step 2: What the Experts Say
The American Automobile Association recommends following these guidelines to reduce your chances of winter accidents.
· Avoid using cruise control in wintry conditions
· Speed up and slow down carefully
· If possible, don’t stop when going uphill
· Increase distance behind other vehicles to 8 to 10 car lengths
· Steer in the same direction of a skid to avoid overcorrection when your wheels gain traction again
Safety Step 3: Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Even under the best driving conditions giving full attention to the roads and your surroundings is a must.
It is also important that you adjust your driving to the conditions of the roads and avoid driving in adverse conditions if possible.
The safety of you and your loved ones is our number one priority.
However, if you have been injured in an accident due to someone’s reckless driving in unsafe conditions, please call the attorneys at Siniard, Timberlake, & League. We can help.