It’s the middle of winter for most of America, with states like Utah getting absolutely covered in snow and ice. Although it’s a blessing for skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts, it’s a bane for the everyday driver. The slippery roads are annoyingly difficult to drive on. If you’re not careful, you could get into an accident. The risk of crashes is higher during the cold season.
Winter Season and Road Accidents
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), over 70 percent of the country’s roads are in regions that get a lot of snow. And almost 70 percent of Americans live in these regions, too.
During winter, there’s reduced pavement friction due to ice. Roadway capacity is also lessened, because of the snow. Plus, visibility is low with overcast weather and snowfall. These factors create conditions that will likely lead to accidents. The FHA found that 24 percent of weather-related car accidents happen on icy, snowy, or slushy pavement every year. Over 1,300 people die and about 116,800 get injured because of these snow-related vehicle crashes.
Traffic accidents and automotive-related deaths also rose in recent times, even when 16 percent fewer cars were on the road because of the pandemic. The open roads, however, lead to riskier behavior. The traffic fatality spiked from 1.06 per 100 million miles driven to 1 25 per 100 million miles.
Other factors in the increased number of automotive crash deaths were lack of seatbelt security and alcohol and drug use. Personal injury lawyers may also be working overtime to get car accident victims the compensation they deserve.
Local governments continue to improve their road maintenance activities, especially during winter. You should also make an effort to make your journeys safe for yourself, your passengers, and other people you share the road with.
Here’s how you can get ready for your winter drive.
Prepare Your Car for the Cold Weather
The safety of your journey during winter depends a lot on the condition of your vehicle. The cold season, coupled with the snow and ice, can trigger unwanted changes in your high profile vehicle, including tire pressure drops and gas line freezes.
Winterize your car by doing the following:
- Inspect Your Windshield – The clarity of your windshield is vital during the winter. Make sure it’s as clean as possible by scraping off the ice, snow, mud, and dirt from it regularly with soap, water, sponge, and squeegee. Inspect your window wipers for possible wear. If they’re cracked or stiff, they won’t be able to wipe the snow off your windshield effectively during your drive. Get them replaced immediately.
- Switch to winter tires – The cold temperatures can lower the pressure in your tires. Plus, if your tires are worn from months to years of use, it may not be as effective at gripping the road when it’s wet or iced up. Consider getting tires with treads specifically designed for slick roads. These cost significantly more and make more road noise than traditional tires. But they’re worth the tradeoff for safety when driving during the winter.;
- Inspect and repair brake pads – Brake pads need to be replaced after 40,000 miles. If your car’s pads are worn out, you’ll have difficulties stopping at the right time on slippery surfaces. Have them inspected and replaced by professionals.
Keep Your Cameras and Sensors Clean
Today’s cars are equipped with sensors and cameras for a variety of safety features like automatic emergency braking and live video feeds of different angles of the road. Know where these pieces of tech are and keep them clean of dirt and snow. Blocking these sensors and cameras may lead to inaccurate readings.
Go Fully Manual
Even if the automatic features of your car are convenient to use, they may lead to accidents if they malfunction. One crucial example of this is your vehicle cruise control. If your car skids because of the ice, the system may rapidly spin the wheels to keep a constant speed, possibly causing you to lose control of the vehicle.;
Be More Mindful While Driving
If you’ve been driving for months or years now, the activity may be second nature to you. You should be more mindful about it during winter. Make sure to take your time when accelerating and decelerating your car. When in traffic, increase your usual distance from the car in front of you. These safety measures ensure that you have ample space and time to react, in case your car, or the vehicles near you slip on the road.
Even if the roads are clear of traffic during this pandemic, you should still put safety first. This is especially important during the winter months. A seemingly insignificant problem like a slightly loose break or car sensor error could lead to tragic accidents on the road. Keep your car and good shape and your driving skills sharp for your own safety.