Those living in the Midwest, especially those in states with high levels of snowfall like Wisconsin and Minnesota, will have to brace themselves for inclement winter weather every year as temperatures start to drop. Even though drivers in northern states have plenty of experience operating vehicles in snowy and icy conditions, crashes still tend to occur more frequently when the weather is bad.
Many drivers take for granted that everyone will be safe and responsible on the road during blustery winter weather. Unfortunately, many people fail to alter their driving habits to reflect the weather, which is why there is a substantial safety impact created by winter weather.
What do traffic statistics show?
The United States Department of Transportation recognizes how dangerous snowy and icy road conditions are. Overall, the DOT estimates that 24% of weather-related collisions involve slushy, snowy or icy pavement. 15% of weather-related crashes happen during active snowfall or when there is sleet falling. That adds up to over 1,300 annual deaths and nearly 117,000 noteworthy injuries on snowy or icy streets every year.
Your crash risk isn’t the only thing that changes when the roads are snowy. The DOT also estimates that the average road speed on major thoroughfares will decline by between 30 and 40% when the pavement is icy or slushy. Freeway speeds will decline by anywhere from 3 to 40% depending on how much snow there is.
How can you protect yourself?
Ensuring that your vehicle is in proper condition to manage winter roads is an important step. So is making sure that you have adequate insurance. Beyond that, when it comes to driving, giving yourself space in your schedule so that you can leave earlier on days when the weather is bad and can therefore drive more slowly, could reduce your risk of a crash.
Refreshing yourself on how to handle situations on icy streets, like reviewing how to properly turn into a skid, could also help you prevent a crash when you are out on the road in inclement weather. Reminding yourself of the statistical risk of a car crash when the roads are icy can help you make more safety-focused choices about driving.