While every season presents its own challenges to drivers, winter is considered the most dangerous season for driving in many parts of the country. One of the ways we can stay safe is by being informed—consider the most common causes of winter road accidents and how to avoid them.
As any driver knows, slick roads are a significant safety hazard when driving, and they’re much more common in winter when snow and ice are everywhere. Rain, sleet, or snow on the road can decrease a driver’s ability to control and maneuver their car, especially if it’s not properly equipped for winter driving.
In places where it rarely snows—a few times a year or less—the regions aren’t equipped to remove snow and ice from roads, which is why sudden snowstorms can lead to havoc in southern regions. Always check the weather and driving conditions before heading out on the roads in the winter, and prepare yourself and your car to drive safely.
Improper Braking Distance
One of the most common causes of road accidents in the winter is drivers underestimating the distance they need to come to a safe and controlled stop. On cold and wet winter roads, a car will take much longer to come to a stop since it has less grip on the road.
Some inexperienced drivers, or those not used to winter driving, either don’t know or forget this aspect while driving. Because of that, they can end up rear-ending a car or colliding with an object since they don’t take the slick roads into consideration when braking. It’s important to note that well-maintained brakes are crucial when driving in the winter. You need to keep an eye out for the warning signs of brake problems and get them fixed immediately if you notice any issues.
Another common culprit for winter road accidents is the tires. When the roads get slippery, it’s especially important for tires to be inflated to their recommended PSI and have plenty of tread to grip the road better.
If you drive on slick roads frequently during winter, it’s wise to invest in winter tires—in some places, it’s legally required. Winter tires will have a much better grip than all-season tires and can be the difference between a close call and an accident.
Pro Tip: It’s also smart to keep tire chains in your vehicle in case you must drive in severe conditions, like a snowstorm.
The winter brings many hazards, which can affect a driver’s ability to see the road and anything on it. It gets darker earlier and stays dark longer in the winter, and driving at night is naturally more difficult than driving during the day.
Even during the day, regions with snowy winters present a visibility challenge as snow can reflect up to 80 percent of UV rays, so proper eye protection is crucial while driving. And with the sun being in a lower position during winter, harsh sunlight angles are more common, especially in the morning and mid-afternoon when many people commute to and from work.