Winter has definitely settled in to most parts of the United States, and people are feeling its effects from severe flooding in Northern California and Nevada to snow and ice across the Midwest as well as up and down the East Coast. As insurance professionals are aware, winter also brings its own sets of hazards on the road, but these dangers vary by the part of the country you’re driving in.
Of the approximately 5.7 million car crashed in the U.S. each year, 22 percent are caused by adverse weather conditions or sliding on slick pavement.
From December to February, claims data for the last three years noted three major trouble spots for drivers nationally:
- Skidding on ice or snow: 76 percent
- Other vehicle has the right of way: 26 percent
- Theft: 25 percent
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia Winter Claims –
- Collision with animals: 43 percent (of comprehensive claims)
- Rear-end accidents: 13 percent (of collision claims)
- Hit while legally parked: 12 percent (of collision claims)
Winter road tips
Here are some winter road tips to help you stay safe on the road:
- Prepare your car for winter. Check your tires, front and rear window defrosters, and windshield wipers to make sure they’re in good condition and work correctly, and fill your wiper fluid reservoir with a no-freeze product. Keep extra wiper fluid in your car, along with an ice scraper, blanket, jumper cables and an emergency kit.
- Don’t drive until you’ve cleared all the snow and ice off your vehicle, including your windshield, windows and roof. Snow and ice sliding off the roof can cause a hazard for other drivers on the road — and it’s illegal in many states.
- Remember to stay cautious. Even though you may be driving carefully in icy conditions, there’s no guarantee that other drivers are driving just as carefully. Stay aware, and avoid distractions, especially your phone or other passengers.
- Watch out for unique winter hazards. During cold weather, bridges and overpasses are often the first areas to become icy, so use extra caution or plan a route that avoids them. Passing snow plows and sand trucks can also be dangerous. The drivers’ visibility can be reduced and they won’t be expecting anyone to pass them, so they may not see you or be aware of your vehicle.