While wintertime brings holidays and winter sports, the first major snowfall of the year is often accompanied by an increase in auto accidents. As a result, many suffer from preventable injuries and some even lose their lives. While Vancouver may not see a significant amount of snow each year, this can make it even more dangerous because drivers aren’t prepared when it does fall.
It’s important to remember there are ways you can avoid car crashes and keep yourself and your passengers safe in winter weather. In order to know how to avoid accidents, it’s important to know why they happen. Let’s take a look at the top causes of winter car accidents.
Top Causes of Winter Car Accidents
While an auto collision can occur at any time, there are certain circumstances in the winter that make them more likely. If you’re aware of the dangers associated with driving in winter conditions, you can operate your vehicle accordingly and reduce your risk of getting into an accident.
- Icy Roads. Ice can be difficult to see on roads, especially when it’s a thin layer and its dark outside. This is referred to as “black ice.” When drivers do not account for the possibility of ice or slush on the road, they may be unable to turn or stop their vehicle when they want to. Ice can also result in vehicles spinning out and ending up off the road or on the wrong side.
- Low Visibility. Blizzard conditions can make it almost impossible to see the road, other drivers, and pedestrians. Even if the sky is clear, snow buildup can result in distance perception issues.
- Vehicle Maintenance. Cars and trucks need to be properly prepped prior to being taken out in inclement weather like snow, ice, and sleet. Vehicles with worn tires can be more difficult to control when roads get slippery. Faulty headlights, windshield wipers, or defrosters can also lead to decreased visibility. Motorcyclists should also be aware of the dangers of operating bikes in the winter and store the two-wheeled vehicles properly until the season has passed.
- Inexperience. Younger drivers or those who live in areas where there isn’t much or any snow may be unaware of how their vehicle operate in such weather. It’s important to understand how different cars handle different types of weather, what built-in features may help with inclement weather, and how to handle emergency situations.
While avoiding a car accident isn’t always possible when negligent drivers are on the roads, you can take steps to prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter weather.
Preparing for Winter Driving
Even before your tires touch the snow, there are things you can do to prep your vehicle and yourself. Take the following into consideration before the first snowfall:
- Consider purchasing winter tires for your vehicle.
- Make sure you have an ice scraper, broom, and shovel in your trunk for when you need to remove ice and snow.
- Ensure your car has the proper windshield washer fluid that with aids with de-icing your windshield.
- If you haven’t already, make up an emergency kit stocked with blankets, extra clothing, high energy snacks, water, flashlights, extra batteries, jumper cables, phone chargers, and a first aid kit to store in your trunk or back seat.
- Make sure you’ve got a full tank of gas. Not only with this help you get to where you’re going, but it will also ensure your fuel line doesn’t freeze.
- Whenever traveling, inform family members or friends of your plans.
Winter Driving Safety Tips
Once your vehicle is prepped for the winter season, you’ll be able to safely take it on the road. While driving through snowy or icy conditions, there are additional tips you should keep in mind to avoid a crash.
- Drive Slowly. Tires lose their grip more easily in slippery conditions. Driving at a slower speed will help you brake, turn, and accelerate safely when ice and snow are present. If you notice yourself starting to skid, turn your wheel in the direction of the slide and avoid hitting the brakes.
- Keep a Safe Distance. While keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you should always be a priority, you should leave an even larger gap in front of you. Instead of leaving enough space for one car, leave enough space for two. This will allow you to maneuver your car safely in the event of an emergency and reduce the risk of a rear-end collision.
- Turn Down the Heat. While you definitely want to stay warm in your car when it’s freezing outside, if it’s too warm you risk becoming drowsy – which can significantly impair your ability to drive responsibly.
- Check Your Tire Pressure. If your tires are not filled properly, the chance of your vehicle sliding or skidding increases greatly. Refer to your owner’s manual for the correct tire pressure.
- Do One Thing at a Time. While normal driving conditions allow us to do things like brake and turn or accelerate and turn at the same time, winter weather does not. When taking a turn on an icy surface, remember to slowly apply the brakes while the vehicle is still traveling straight. This will reduce your chances of sliding.
- Take the Time to Clear Off Your Car. While this may seem obvious, you may need to clear more snow off your vehicle than you realize. Take the time to thoroughly brush off your vehicle and scrape any ice off your windshield. Even a small obstruction can reduce your visibility enough to cause an accident.
If you’ve been injured in a wreck that resulted from another driver’s negligence, no matter the season, our lawyers are prepared to provide you with the legal representation you deserve. Dealing with insurance companies and claims can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to recover from injuries. We can help ensure you understand your legal rights and options, so you get the compensation you need. For more information, reach out to our firm today.