Winter weather is not just the typical rain or snow you see during winter times. Winter weather can include heavy downpours, thunderstorms, sleet, and even blizzard conditions. When winter storms strike, roads become icy, slippery, and hard to navigate. These winter conditions are dangerous for drivers, so it is important to stay alert when driving in wintry conditions. Being especially careful on the road at this time of year can prevent many car accidents.
Winter Driving Accident Statistics
Over 70 percent of U.S. roads are in snowy regions, and approximately 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in areas that receive a significant amount of snow. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly one million motorists are involved in car accidents each year because of winter weather or roadway conditions that result from winter storms. Most of these accidents occur on bridges or overpasses where road conditions are most hazardous.
Also, more than 60 percent of wintertime motor vehicle collisions involve three-vehicle accidents, owing to many cars and trucks unable to stop because of slick, slippery, and icy roads. Every year, about 76,000 people are injured in traffic accidents during snowfall. It has been reported that 70 percent of accidental fatalities that occur during winter happen in cars. Approximately 800 Americans die in car accidents annually while driving in winter weather conditions.
Safety Tips for Winter Drivers
Winter driving can be dangerous because of weather conditions. Driving in winter weather should be approached just as driving in any other type of difficult driving environment. Here are some winter driving tips that will help you stay safe this winter season:
Winterize your car. Get your vehicle checked by a mechanic before winter arrives. Check for proper tread on winter tires, fluid levels, and belts/hoses. Make sure your windshield wipers work properly and have the washer nozzles cleaned out so they do not freeze up during bad weather or spring snowstorms. If you have antilock brakes, make sure the system is operational. Have the battery tested as well, because it could die if left unused over the winter months. Low air pressure in your tires is dangerous. Make sure the pressure is at the proper winter standard.
You should have a winter car kit. It should include jumper cables; ice scraper; winter windshield wiper fluid; flashlight with fresh batteries; blanket; and a bag of sand, salt, or kitty litter in case you get stuck. Also bring along an extra winter coat, gloves, boots, and socks to change into. It is also important to have spare winter clothes for all passengers in your vehicle. Teach passengers how to properly wear their seat belts, since some people do not know that loosened belts are dangerous on slippery roads. Make sure everyone knows the location of the spare tire.
Consider changing your regular tires over to snow tires. Although this is an extra expense, it does provide increased safety when traveling on snowy and icy roads.
Slow down. Slow down while driving in winter weather. Most winter accidents are caused by someone driving too fast. Either another driver is driving too fast and loses control of their vehicle, striking your car, or you are driving too fast for the road conditions and cannot stop in time when faced with a sudden emergency. Adjust your driving for winter conditions by slowing down.
Watch out for black ice. Be aware of winter road hazards. Watch out for black ice, also called glaze, which is hidden patches of ice on the road that are very dangerous. It looks just like any other wintery road but can cause you to lose control if you hit it even at slow speeds. Snowplows create long lines of salt and sand when clearing snow off the roads. These make excellent traction in winter weather but can be very slippery in warm weather because they dry up. Snow often blows back onto the roads after plows pass by, making them slick again. When it snows or rains hard before or after a snowstorm, grime from city streets washes onto the roads and makes them unsafe.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Winter Car Accident
The actual winter weather is dangerous if you are stuck out on a deserted road during freezing weather. But if you cannot control your car in winter weather conditions, that is even more dangerous. If you ever find yourself in an accident because of winter weather, follow these steps to ensure your safety:
- Stay calm. The last thing anyone needs in this situation is to panic. Frustration will only make the situation worse when trying to resolve the issue at hand. You need to keep a calm and cool head so that you can prevent more injuries such as secondary collisions or injuries from hypothermia or shock.
- Check for injuries. If anyone in your car is injured, call 911 immediately and try to stay warm until help arrives. If you or your passengers get too cold, shock could set in, especially if you or they have serious injuries. Also, be aware of hypothermia. It does not take too much time and the temperatures do not have to be very cold for hypothermia to set in.
- Stay at the scene. Do not leave the scene of the accident, if it is safe enough to remain there, until after law enforcement officials arrive on the scene if others are involved.
- Talk to witnesses. Ask people who may have been witnesses to provide their names and contact information for later use, if necessary. If you are seriously injured, your car accident lawyer will want to take recorded statements from those witnesses as soon as possible. The sooner witnesses tell what they know, the more accurate their account will be. You do not want to take a witness’ statement a year after the accident. They might not remember important information that would help answer the question of who was at fault.
- Move your vehicle if possible. If no one is injured, move your vehicle off the road to a safe location out of traffic, if possible. One issue that often occurs with car and truck accidents during wintery weather conditions is multi-vehicle collisions. We often see stories of these types of accidents on highways that involve 10, 20, or even 30 cars and tractor trailers smashing into each other, one after another, because drivers cannot stop in time because they are driving too fast for the road conditions.
Car Seats for Children during Winter
A winter driving safety tip that many people do not realize has to do with children’s winter coats and car seats. Parents need to know that heavy coats or snowsuits on small children can interfere with the proper harness fit on a child in a car seat. Having a heavy coat does not allow the harness to snuggly fit close to your child, potentially allowing them to slip out of the harness during a serious collision. Parents should use thin, warm layers and place blankets or coats around the child after the harness is snug and secure for extra warmth.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Help Those Seriously Injured in a Winter Accident
Wintertime is the time of year when most car and truck accidents occur in Delaware. If you have been seriously injured in a car or truck accident because of another driver’s negligent and careless driving, the experienced Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, can help. We will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.