The 3 major causes of winter accidents and how you can avoid them
During the winter, driving under treacherous conditions requires your full attention. Here are the most common causes of accidents and how you can stay safe.
The winter weather brings heavy snowfall, icy roads, reduced visibility, and plenty of severe driving conditions. Just the thought of driving during this season gives many people extreme anxiety. According to statistics, there are roughly 156,000 car accidents during this season. Of those crashes, 76,000 people will be injured, and 1,300 will lose their lives.
The use of defensive driving techniques is the best way to avoid an accident. Knowledge is power, especially when you’re driving in inclement weather. Here are the most common accidents you can encounter during the winter and how you can avoid them.
(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
1. Spin Out Collisions
When the roads are slick, it’s very easy to spin out and lose control of your vehicle. You should always pay attention to the local area weather to get road updates as it can be incredibly dangerous to travel during a snow emergency. If you lose control of your vehicle and spin out on black ice, you may find yourself thrown into the other lane of traffic. If your car is spinning, it’s impossible to get control until you hit something, or the vehicle comes to a stop. Pushing your breaks or trying to steer the car is of little help.
The best thing to do when your car is spinning is to try to steer in the direction of the skid. Don’t try to fight the way the car is going, as it will only exacerbate the problem. Remember, you must stay calm because any certain movements will make things worse. If the car is skidding to the right, then turn your wheels to the right. If the roads are treacherous and you are sliding, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that you’ve lost control. Always take turns slowly, and reduce your speed by at least 10-20 mph on slick roads.
Photo by Alejandro Luengo
2. Read End Car Crash
The first reaction you will have when you start sliding on black ice is to hit the brakes. Consequently, your quick braking can make things worse. Braking fast only works when the roads are clear. Rear-end collisions are frequent during the winter months as people misjudge the distance between them and the other vehicle. Once you lose control, you can easily smash into the car in front of you.
To prevent a rear-end car crash, allow at least two or three car lengths of distance between you and the car ahead of you. By increasing your following range, it gives you more room to maneuver your vehicle should you start to slide. Also, reducing your speed allows you to slow down your momentum so that you don’t need to slam on your brakes.
3. Lane Drifting Accidents
One of the biggest problems during the winter months is visibility. Cold temperatures and snowstorms bring fog that makes it nearly impossible to see. When visibility is only a few feet in front of you, you must be extra cautious on the roads. How many times have you driven down a snow-covered road when the lanes weren’t even visible?
Maintaining your proper position on the road becomes difficult, and you can easily drift into the other lane. When you’re in the wrong lane, it’s easy to hit another vehicle. Additionally, just clipping another car can cause them or you to spin out. It’s not difficult to have a multiple car collision on icy roads.
Be alert and keep your eyes on the other cars around you. Use deductive reasoning to maintain a safe lane space even if you cannot see the lines. Follow tracks from other vehicles to stay in your lane. If you get out of the tracks, you may find that you hit black ice or slushy areas that can cause you to slide.
Staying Safe During Winter Driving
The first and most important thing to driving in winter weather is to slow down. The second thing is to allow ample space between you and the car in front of you. If you don’t have to drive, then stay home. Listen to your local weather forecast and be aware of the road conditions before you leave your home. Avoid any abrupt movements, and don’t rely on your brakes. Most of the accidents that occur could be avoided if people would not rush. It would help if you allowed yourself plenty of time to commute during inclement weather and keep your eye on the sky.
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