In Washington, winter can mean cold, rainy days. It can also mean ice and snow piling up on the roads.
When you have to drive to get to work or need to head to an appointment, you don’t always have the luxury of saying that it’s too dangerous to go out. That’s why it’s important to take some time to talk about the risks and how you can travel safely in the winter months.
Winter weather causes crashes
Put plainly, rain, snow, sleet and ice cause crashes. Each year, 150,000 or more crashes are linked to winter weather conditions, like icy roads, around the United States. When you’re driving, remember that it may take you up to 10 times longer to stop when the roads are icy or snow-covered.
With around 17% of all vehicle crashes happening in snowy conditions, it’s also a good idea to keep a weather radio on hand when you go out. When blizzard-like conditions are predicted, see if you can rearrange your schedule to drive home or to work once the storm has passed. If the roads are too slippery and you find it hard to control your vehicle, it’s safer to call off whatever you had planned and stay home.
Making a winter drive? Keep these tools on hand
If you will have to go out, make sure you’re prepared. Clean your windshield, mirrors and windows before you go out, and keep an ice scraper on hand. To prevent cuts from ice, wear gloves when you scrape the windows. You may also want to invest in windshield wiper fluid that is designed for cold weather because it will help melt ice and snow as your vehicle defrosts or while you’re en route.
It’s a smart choice to keep a bag of kitty litter in your vehicle, too. If you can’t stand the smell, sand will do just fine. Either one can help you get better traction under your wheels if you get stuck.
In case of a crash or problem with your vehicle, keep a first-aid kit with you, and bring some food, water and warm clothing or blankets.
Winter might be dangerous, but you can get through it if you’re cautious about when and how you drive. If you do end up in a crash, call 911 and take some time to consider making a personal injury claim.