Winter weather comes in many varieties. Sometimes, there is slushy, wet snow that coats the roads and leads to children building large snow forts. Other times, snow is powdery and light because temperatures are lower. Sometimes, precipitation falls as rain or sleet and then freezes, turning streets into ice rinks. Snowy and icy weather are major safety concerns for drivers in the winter months and at high elevations, where snow may persist year-round.
When there is ice or snow present, road speeds tend to drop, and crash risk rises. People often take for granted that they can safely handle the risks created by snow and ice on winter roads. However, traffic statistics indicate otherwise. Winter weather is responsible for some of the worst collisions.
When looking at federal collision data, it is obvious that severe weather leads to more collisions. In fact, the presence of snow, ice or even rain on the streets is sufficient to increase someone’s collision risk. More than 1,300 people die and over 116,000 get hurt each year because of winter weather crashes. Almost one in four weather-related incidents involve snow or ice.
No one has the option of just staying home every time it snows, sleeps or rains. You need to get to work no matter what the weather is like and get your children to school every day. What you can do is adjust your driving habits and daily schedule for the potential of that weather. Getting up just 15 minutes earlier to give yourself time to leave earlier if necessary can make all the difference during the winter months. Otherwise, you might find yourself rushing as you commute, which is very dangerous.
You want to give yourself enough time to be able to slow down and truly adjust your driving habits for the current road conditions. When it starts getting colder outside, it is likely also a good time to evaluate your vehicle’s systems, including its tires, brakes and windshield wipers. Finally, occasionally going over what kind of insurance coverage you carry can be a smart move, as you may be in a position now where you require more coverage than you previously needed.
Understanding the elevated risks present on winter roads and adjusting your habits to account for them can limit your risk of experiencing a weather-related car wreck.