From 2011 to 2015, Pennsylvania was considered one of the top five deadliest states for winter car accidents. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Pennsylvania had an average of about 83 fatal car accidents during the winter months, topping the list at number three.
Causes of Winter Accidents
Unfortunately, 25% of these fatal Pennsylvania car accidents involve out-of-state drivers. The reason behind this? Weather conditions that out-of-staters have never seen before. And although fatal winter accidents can be caused by a number of factors, the main culprit is the weather. In fact, 1 out of 5 car accidents occur during inclement weather. The following are the leading causes of winter accidents on the road.
During the winter months blizzards, hail, heavy snow, rain and fog can reduce visibility on the roads and increase the risk of an accident. In addition, snow pile up on the road can make it harder for drivers to see traffic signs, pedestrians, vehicles and other objects along the road.
Sometimes the causes of car accidents on the road are also caused by things we can’t see. When it rains or temperature drops down, roads can be come slippery with black ice. Black ice on the road forms from light freezing rain or snow that has melted and re-freezed.
Steering through harsh weather is already tough enough, but having a vehicle that’s not equipped to do so is detrimental. If you car has worn out or bald tires, your risk of getting in an accident from the road conditions are increased since your tires have poor traction. Broken headlights or taillights, defroster fans, and windshield wipers can all effect how you navigate through winter weather.
That’s right, snow itself can cause major winter accidents. Snow or ice left on vehicles can fly off and cause serious injuries or damage to yourself or others on the road. In fact, you can be fined you up yo $1,000 in Pennsylvania if ice and snow projecting off of your car injures someone or causes damage.
How to Avoid Winter Accidents
So what can you do to protect yourself and other drivers on the road while traveling during wintertime? Now that you know the causes, here are some winter safety tips to follow to prepare for and avoid deadly winter accidents:
- Get your car serviced regularly
- Clear the snow of off your car before heading out on the road
- Always carry a winter emergency kit in your car (i.e. shovel, ice scraper, gloves, extra blankets)
- Never head out on a big trip without a full tank of gas
- Don’t break, speed up or swerve to avoid black ice – instead, keep calm and keep your steering wheel straight
- Use your fog lights for low visibility conditions
- Be alert and cautious at all times
Preparing your self and your vehicle for winter is going to decrease your risk of accidents and keep you safe in any weather!