The sheer power and unpredictability of tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes leave the bravest citizens shaken up. The damage created is devastating, but everyday weather is exponentially more dangerous. Wet or icy pavement is statistically more dangerous than any tornado, hurricane, or earthquake. Unbelievable, right?
In autumn, we store our tank tops and grab our winter coats as temperatures drop. Snow falls and temperatures shift, but we believe we are safe from major life-altering natural disasters. What we should worry about is something we do every day; driving in inclement weather. Based on statistics from the US Department of Transportation, weather-related accidents cause more fatalities than any tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or flood.
The Department of Transportation states there are nearly 6,000,000 vehicle crashes each year. About 21% of these crashes (1,235,000) are weather-related. Weather-related crashes can include rain, sleet, snow, fog, or severe wind. These are all conditions we deal with regularly in Kansas and Missouri. From the 1,235,000 weather-related crashes each year, almost 5,000 people are killed and over 418,000 are injured. A large percentage of these fatalities occur on wet pavement and during heavy rainfall; 70% and 46% respectively. Wet pavement prompted nearly 900,000 crashes. A third of those passengers were injured. Winter conditions also account for a percentage of accidents. 18% during snow/sleet and 13% on icy pavement. All in all, driving during inclement weather is dangerous, much more dangerous, than previously thought. We understand the perils, but what can we do to mitigate an expected crash?
We can’t always prevent car accidents, but we can do more to be prepared. If you’re driving on icy or slick pavement, pay attention to these guidelines! Just a few simple rules can save you thousands in medical bills as well as property damage. While we’re at it, we’ll throw in some car preparation tips for unfavorable weather.
TIPS FOR DRIVING IN BAD WEATHER
WET PAVEMENT PRECAUTIONS
Check Your Speed: With wet pavement, there is a chance your car will hydroplane. Hydroplaning occurs when your tires fail to contact with the ground due to loss of friction between the tire and pavement. Slow down to a comfortable speed, usually 5-10 MPH below the speed limit.
Watch For Flooded Areas: Flooded areas usually accumulates along the side of the road, especially where the road meets the curb. Water tends to collect near the storm drains and can be particularly dangerous when traveling at high speeds. Be cautious when driving in the right lane and even in the left lane if there is a median along the road.
Pump Your Brakes: Rain will reduce the amount of friction between the brake pad and the tire. Pumping your brakes rather than suddenly slamming on them will reduce your chances of losing control during a sudden stop.
ICY ROAD PRECAUTIONS
Slow Down: As we transition into the colder months, roads are more likely to get slick. Make sure that you slow down, at least 10 MPH below the speed limit.
Black Ice: Look out for black ice along the roads. Black ice is nearly invisible and frequently forms near intersections due to nearby drains. Try to slow down a couple hundred feet before the intersection to ensure you come to a complete stop.
Tailgating: Leave plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you. Unexpected stops from the car in front of you can result in rear-end crashes and the possibility of severe injuries.
CAR TROUBLE & PREPARATION TIPS
Checking the weather before you drive is a great habit. Being proactive rather than reactive puts you in a better position in the event of inclement weather. Inspecting windshield wipers, tire treads, and headlights before heading out on the road will aid when traveling through rainy or icy conditions. Lastly, pack an emergency kit that includes flares, blankets, jumper cables, tow ropes, and an ice scraper will help you out during a sticky situation.
If you need to pull over due to severe weather or car problems, alert other drivers of your position. Turn on your caution lights and move to the side of the road. Stay in your car until help arrives. Tips for driving in bad weather can be helpful, but sometimes the elements are too severe. It is always better to be safe when driving through inclement weather.