There is little doubt when the weather gets colder; more traffic accidents are likely to occur. This can be attributed to the inclement weather conditions, such as sleet and snow, snow, icy rain, and so forth. According to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), in 2011 alone there were approximately 26,458 fatal accidents in normal weather conditions, 2,2042 fatal accidents in rainy conditions, and 595 fatal car crashes that included sleet, hail or blowing snow, as well as snow itself.
Thus, from this information one can see that winter weather conditions cause 2% of all accidents on the roadway.
What this information shows is that during winter weathers, crashes can occur at a rapid pace, however, the gathered research also showcases that these kinds of crashes can also be readily avoided. First and foremost, one should take into account of the deadliest aspect of winter weather conditions – black ice.
Black ice is a term used to describe a thin sheet of ice that is generally called such because it can be hard to see, especially on the roadway. According to research conducted by the Atmospheric Sciences department at Texas A&M University, black ice is reflective, and normally reflects the color of the road. As such, drivers drive over these roadways at normal conditions not realizing that there is a significant amount of ice undertow, which can then cause drivers to spin out of control, and oftentimes, crash as a result. As one can imagine, this can cause significant injuries or even loss of life.
Information also shows that this is a national occurrence during winter weather. For instance, In Pennsylvania and Maryland, as many as six individuals have died as a result of black ice in January alone. In Illinois, as recently as a week ago, 50 vehicles slammed into one another, sending 11 individuals to the hospital as a result of black ice. Although the accounted injuries were minor, this showcases how quickly it can be possible for just the right conditions to create a massive pile up as a result of one car slipping across black ice.
With the consequences of black ice and similar weather conditions very clear, it is equally important to consider how to combat this issue, especially those who will be traversing across icy roads throughout the winter season. The first thing to do is to take stock of the weather and road conditions before traveling. This is especially ideal in order to know which highways and roadways to take caution in, or avoid altogether.
It is also important to consider one’s vehicle and ensure that all tires are properly aired, and when possible, also invest in tires with treading that will cling to roadways better. Above all else, it is imperative to take caution when traveling across the roadways in icy and snowy conditions.
Even if the roadway looks as if there is no ice or snow over it, it may just be black ice! Thus one should use caution at all times when traveling.