Gearing Up for Icy, Snow Packed Roads
Brisk winds and chilly temperatures often bring with them an abundance of snow and ice in Illinois, and while the glistening white scenery is beautiful to look at, driving on icy, snow packed roads can be dangerous, and sometimes even deadly. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 116,800 people are injured and over 1,300 individuals lose their lives due to accidents on icy, snow packed, or slushy roads In the United States each year. With more than 70 percent of America’s roadways located in snowy regions that receive five inches or more of snowfall on average each year, and approximately 70 percent of the nation’s population residing in these regions, it’s no wonder the statistics are so high.
Snow packed, icy roadways not only interfere with the maneuverability of vehicles when making turns, passing, and merging into traffic, the snow and ice can have a significant impact on a vehicle’s stopping time as well. Unfortunately, this makes snow and ice some of the top causes of vehicle accidents throughout the cold weather regions of the nation.
Avoiding Accidents When Driving on Snowy, Icy, or Slushy Roadways
Understanding how to safely drive on snow packed, icy, or slushy roads can significantly reduce your risk of becoming another accident statistic. Here are a few tips that can help you arrive at your destination safely.
- Steer Clear of Snowy Roadways: Whenever possible, it is best to avoid driving on slippery or snow packed roads altogether. When bad weather travel is a must, however, stick to well traveled roads that are more likely to have been cleared by road crews. Additionally, try to avoid streets where frequent stops and starts are a must.
- Tread Safely: Get prepared before the snowy season starts by making sure the tread on your tires is in good condition and appropriate for the slippery roadways. When possible, upgrade your tires with snow tires, all weather tires, or snow chains to increase traction.
- Clear Visibility: Before you begin your trip, be sure to clear all of the snow from your windshield, rear window, and side windows. Be sure to gently brush the snow from the hood and roof of your vehicle as well, because a fast stop or start, or blowing winds can cause this snow to block your vision. Additionally, be sure that your windshield wipers are in good condition and you have plenty of wiper fluid.
- Slow Down: Remember that it will likely take longer for your vehicle to slow down or stop on snowy, icy, or slushy roads. Reduce your speed by 30 to 40 percent to allow plenty of time to respond. Additionally, your vehicle will be easier to maneuver through turns and lane changes at slower speeds.
- Remain Calm: Should you begin to slip or lose control of your vehicle, try to remain calm and remember to turn INTO the skid. It is also a good idea to remove your foot from the brake and honk your horn to alert other drivers of the situation.
- Watch for Ice: Ice, especially black ice, is often difficult to see when you are operating a vehicle. Be especially careful at intersections and near bridges, where ice tends to accumulate more frequently.
Be Prepared for An Accident and Know How to Handle One
Unfortunately, the only way to completely remove the risk of becoming involved in an accident is to avoid driving altogether. Since this option isn’t always feasible, accidents on the snow and ice can and do frequently occur. There are a few things you can do to help reduce the adverse effects of an accident, however.
- Keep an extra blanket in your vehicle during the winter months and always dress in weather appropriate clothing in case you would become stranded.
- Be sure your cell phone is charged so you can call for help if need be.
- Never leave your vehicle in blistery weather. Poor visibility and chilling temperatures can cause you to become lost, suffer from cold stress, or even be hit by another vehicle.
- Try to keep your fuel tank at least half full during the winter months. This wil enable you to start your car periodically to keep warm should you slide off of the road.
Vehicle accidents during snowy or icy weather can result in serious injuries that often require ongoing medical treatment resulting in extensive medical bills. Additionally, many people who suffer weather related accident injuries are forced to miss time from work which often results in lost wages, not to mention the damage that is done to their property. Individuals who are involved in car accidents should seek the advice of a car accident attorney before ever accepting any kind of pay out or settlement from an insurance company.