Winter weather can lead to hazardous driving conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration, approximately 70% of the US population lives in snowy regions. Of all automobile accidents, 17% will happen during winter weather conditions. This means that a large portion of the nation is at risk for winter-related accidents.
On December 18, 2019, unexpected winter weather led to a multi-vehicle crash in our area, sending dozens to the hospital and killing one individual. Snow squalls with white-out conditions were to blame for the horrific event.
With this type of weather being common in our region, how can you prepare yourself for hazardous conditions and protect yourself from auto accidents?
The National Weather Service offers the following suggestions if you’re stuck in a winter storm.
If you must drive during winter weather:
- Drive slowly. Though roads may just appear wet, there could be black ice on your roadway.
- Clear your vehicle of ice and snow. Before you begin to drive, clear all remnants from your vehicle as snow or ice falling from your vehicle can cause an accident to other drivers.
- Stay connected. Be sure to let someone know where you are going and what route you plan to take. If something were to happen to you during your commute, it gives others a better idea of where you were heading if a search needs to take place.
- Be prepared. Make sure you have your phone charged and a car charger with you as well as an emergency supplies kit in your vehicle.
- Stay calm. If your vehicle begins to slide, stay calm. Ease your foot off the gas and turn the wheels in the direction you want the car to go. However, if you have an anti-lock braking system, apply steady pressure to the brake pedal and do not pump the brakes.
- Pull over. If you cannot see due to weather conditions worsening, pull over in a safe place on the side of the road and stop your vehicle until visibility improves. Turn off the vehicle lights and use your parking brake so another vehicle doesn’t mistakenly follow and hit you.
If your vehicle becomes stuck during winter weather driving:
- Stay inside the vehicle. Leaving the vehicle can put you at a greater risk.
- Take precautions. Run the motor for 10 minutes every hour for heat but leave your window open a crack to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Be visible. Turn on your dome light when running the engine. You should also tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna or door to signal for help.
- Wait for the snow to stop. When the snow subsides, raise the hood of your vehicle to indicate you need assistance.
Did you know?
In 2018, PennDOT reported that snow, sleet, and freezing rain accounted for 9,802 (7.6%) of accidents in Pennsylvania resulting in 30 (2.5%) fatalities.
This winter, practice safe driving by staying alert of potential winter weather conditions.
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Have you been injured as a result of a winter weather-related automobile accident? Know your rights and schedule a free consultation with Fellerman & Ciarimboli today to get experienced legal help that will fight for you and has a proven track record.
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