The winter season in Ohio started as early as November 11, 2019 — dumping several inches of ice and snow on the Columbus area. Only a day before ushering in the new year, Winter Storm Gage brought us snow, ice, high winds, power outages, and several collisions.
While we can't control the weather, we can control how we prepare for it and how we navigate through it. Winter weather is only a contributing factor when crashes occur. Most often, it's the actions of drivers that result in collisions.
Here are three of the most dangerous winter habits of many drivers:
Failure to prepare ahead of time
Planning ahead is everything when it comes to navigating winter weather conditions. Unfortunately, many drivers go out in poor conditions, which can contribute to the likelihood of a crash.
Worn out or poorly maintained tires, for example, are a contributing factor in winter weather crashes. If tire pressure is too low, it can be difficult to maintain vehicle control when driving on slick surfaces. According to Business Insider, properly inflated tires typically lose 1 psi of pressure per month and 1 psi for every 10-degree drop in temperature. When tire pressure gets too low, most drivers will be alerted by an orange pressure light in their dashboard display. That's why it's critical for drivers to always check their tire pressure before the winter begins.
Poor tire tread can make it difficult for drivers to accelerate, slow down, and maintain control while navigating curves. With adequate tread, the tires have enough grip on the road surface to prevent spinouts and loss of vehicle control when traveling at a safe speed. Tire safety can be tested by inserting a penny between the tread. If President Lincoln's head is completely visible, then it is time to get new tires.
Other considerations for preparing for winter weather include:
- Ensuring that wiper blades are in proper-working order for adequate visibility
- Ensuring that headlights are clean and in good condition for nighttime visibility
- Preparing for breakdowns to avoid being stranded or struck by other cars
Driving too fast for conditions
Speed is the most common cause of winter-related crashes. Usually, drivers underestimate winter weather and continue driving as they would if conditions were dry. A video by the Weather Channel explains why it's critical to slow down:
- Reduced reaction time: Visibility is often limited during snowfall. For example, if snow is falling at one inch per hour, drivers may not see any more than one mile ahead during the daytime. When snow is falling at two inches per hour, visibility is reduced to 1/4th of a mile. During whiteout conditions, drivers may not be able to see in front of them at all.
- Increased stopping distance: It should be common knowledge that it typically takes longer to stop during winter weather conditions. More specifically, it can take a minimum of 1,000 feet to stop on slippery roads when traveling at 50 mph.
Failing to clear snow and ice from car
Even after a winter storm has passed and the roads have been cleaned up, some drivers fail to clear ice and snow from their cars and trucks, even though it only takes a few minutes to do so.
When traveling behind one of these drivers on a high-speed roadway, blowing snow can cause visibility problems. Even worse, if a large sheet of snow or ice breaks off of a moving car, it can strike other cars or create a dangerous swerving risk.
Another video by the Weather Channel explains how:
Should you or a loved one be injured in a crash this winter season because of someone else's negligence, Michael D. Christensen Law Offices LLC can help. To find out how to pursue a strong legal claim and recover all damages owed to you, contact us online and schedule your free case evaluation.