The holiday season is fast approaching, and people everywhere are already starting to prepare for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s another kind of preparation you can undertake at this time of year that is quite important. It’s time to start planning for safety on winter roads. Crashes and resulting injuries and fatalities often increase during inclement weather. Knowing that there are risks can help you take steps to protect yourself on the road.
Even if it doesn’t snow very much where you live, colder overall temperatures can result in frost, slush and even black ice on the roads. Fog and big storms can reduce visibility, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. Low light and shorter days can also increase the risk of a crash. When you throw alcohol-soaked holiday parties into the mix, winter roads can be downright treacherous.
Drive slowly and respect road conditions
According to the Federal Highway Administration, snow and winter roads impact how people drive. When there is light snowfall, freeway speeds go down by 3 to 13 percent. In heavy snow, the average speed on a freeway will drop by between 5 and 40 percent. Surface or arterial roads will also experience slow downs of between 30 and 40 percent. That means you should adjust your travel time expectations to reflect a longer commute when snow is falling or present on the roads.
Allowing more time for your commute is an important way to reduce your risk of a crash. Slower speeds allow you a better chance of braking the vehicle, even on slick streets. You may also want to adjust your travel route. Freeways, highways and interstates will probably have snow cleared quicker, but there will be more traffic. Rural routes and surface roads will take longer to clear, but there will be fewer other vehicles on the road.
Prepare for the risk of a crash
No matter how carefully you drive, you can’t control the way other people behave behind the wheel. In order to protect yourself and others, you should take steps to prepare for a crash. Packing an extra pair of boots, a coat and some blankets in the trunk helps ensure you and any passengers can keep warm after your collision or when you slide off the road. Flares, flashers and portable signs indicating a distressed vehicle ahead can reduce the risk of someone else compounding your accident.
Autumn is also a great time to have your vehicle inspected for issues. Mechanical problems, from thinning brake pads to a radiator in need of work, can easily contribute to the likelihood of a crash. Take the time to maintain your vehicle, and it will do a better job of keeping you safe in the winter. In the event of a crash, you must remember to take your time before committing to anything and always review your options for compensation.