Ridiculously Simple Ways To Prevent A Car Crash This Winter
We’ve had some crazy weather storms already this winter in Pacific NW! Many of us experienced extremely long commutes, even needing to abandon cars or finding hotel rooms before making it home.
More winter storms could come our way – it’s the nature of weather to be unpredictable!
And, over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement across the nation.
But preventing accidents in the snow and ice is actually surprisingly simple. So here’s our no-brainer tips to reduce your risk of an accident this winter:
- If you don’t have the proper equipment for the weather, then don’t risk getting behind the wheel! That might include chains, snow tires, 4-wheel drive, and even good windshield wipers. The cars that we see stranded on the highway are usually the ones that didn’t have the right gear needed.
- Instead, consider alternative transportation. Get a ride. Or take a bus, or walk. Biking could be as dangerous as driving, so carefully weigh your options and make sure you have the right gear for that too.
- Technology makes it so much easier to work from home. With a laptop and wifi, most of us could do much of our work anywhere! Even important meetings could be done by Skype or other video/phone conference systems.
Prepare In Advance
- If you do have proper equipment to take to the roads, keep an eye on the temperature and forecast so that you know what to expect. Look online at the road cams on your travels; in Oregon the ODOT Tripcheck is a great place to check out specific road conditions, and make sure your planned route is safe.
- If the experts are predicting a storm, keep a full tank of gas and fully charged cell phone, so that you don’t have to stop or be distracted during your drive. Wear a warm coat in case you need to chain up – and it’s always a good idea to keep water, food and blankets in your car too, just in case you get stuck somewhere for a period of time.
- If you’re an employer, you may want to have plans in place to close down the office, and allow employees to work from home in extreme conditions. An emergency weather plan will make for better communications with your customers, and likely save your business money.
- Higher speeds increase the risk and severity of accident. This is especially true on snow and ice, because it takes even longer to slow down, with the stopping distance about 10x as long as on dry roads!
- Studies show that freeway speeds are reduced by 3 to 13 percent in light snow and by 5 to 40 percent in heavy snow – so plan accordingly. It will definitely take you longer to get to your destination, and that’s a good thing! You’ve got much more traction in the snow when you go slower, and on heavy snow it’s recommended that you slow down to at least half of the posted speed limit.
- If you’re driving slow and still not in safe control of the car, pull over to the side and call for help – you probably don’t have a vehicle or equipment that can handle the conditions.
- Be extra aware of the drivers around you. They may lose control and cross a lane divider or worse. Hang back from any erratic or potential drunk driving you might see. It’s dangerous to follow too closely anyway, as it reduces your visibility and stopping distance.
- If you have young kids, and find that they are a distraction, enforce a quiet or whispering rule in the car when there’s snow or ice. They can make a game out of it, while you get them home safe and sound.
- Look at the sky too! If the storm is getting worse, consider getting to safe haven as soon as possible.
- Keep an eye out for pedestrians, bicyclists and pets too, especially in the city! And in more remote areas, many winter collisions are due to wildlife on the road.
Put The Phone Down
- It’s just not safe to be fiddling with your phone while you’re driving, so put it away and out of reach. And it’s illegal! There are hands-free cell phone laws in Oregon and Washington, which means you can’t hold or operate phones while you’re driving.
- If the laws aren’t enough to convince you, research shows that texting and driving is 6x more dangerous than drunk driving, and that’s just nuts in the ice and snow when the time you’ve got to react is reduced even further.
- Even looking down at your phone to change music or podcasts is as dangerous – and just as illegal – as texting. Get your music and other audio entertainment ready and running before you start driving, so you aren’t tempted to mess with it on the road.
Your ABI Insurance agent can review your current coverage and the options for your vehicle in the case of an accident, so call us if you’re not sure about your plan. If you experience a fender-bender or injury due to an auto accident this winter, first: stay calm, and exchange information. Then contact your ABI Insurance agent to report the accident for any possible claims.