Education

Winter Ice, Snow, and Storm Road Safety Basics

There are roughly 156,000 car accidents in the U.S. during the winter season. Of those crashes, 76,000 people will be injured, and 1,300 will lose their lives.

The three major causes of winter driving accidents are:

1. Spin Out Collisions

2. Rear End Car Crashes

3. Lane Drifting Accidents

Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion.

Winter storms including blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds.

A winter storm can:

  • Last a few hours or several days.
  • Cut off heat, power and communication services.
  • Put older adults, children and sick individuals at greater risk.

IF YOU ARE UNDER A WINTER STORM WARNING, FIND SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • Stay off roads.
  • Stay indoors and dress warmly.
  • Prepare for power outages.

You’ve probably seen road signs advising that bridges freeze before roads, but do you know why?

Having open air underneath the bridge means the cold air surrounds the bridge both above and below.


If there’s even the chance that a bridge might be frozen, SLOW DOWN! And do it before you cross the bridge — changing speed on ice is dangerous.

When recent rain or snowmelt comes into contact with freezing temperatures, black ice can form — and you might not even see it. And while black ice is more prevalent at night, it can often stick around for the morning commute.

Avoid driving if you can…don’t let black ice sneak up on you.

Compared to a typical snowstorm, freezing rain is much more hazardous — especially on the road. While both are dangerous, it’s far easier to lose control of your vehicle on icy pavement, not to mention the increased risk of falling branches and powerlines.


Bottom line: do not drive if there is, or recently was, freezing rain.

Rain may seem like less of a winter driving hazard than snow, but when temperatures are near freezing, that’s not the case. Ice can form quickly and make roads slick.

In these conditions, slow down, don’t use cruise control, and keep plenty of distance between you and other vehicles. Don’t let this winter hazard sneak up on you!


If you’re going to be driving this winter, know how to stay #WeatherReady.

Winterize your vehicle and pack a supply kit. Share your travel plans, and before leaving, check road conditions and the weather forecast.

Car Emergency Kit

  • Include enough food, water, meds & anything used daily in your emergency kit to last for at least 72 hrs #WinterSafety
  • Get ahead of #Winter storms by making sure your emergency kit for your car is fully stocked: www.ready.gov/car #WinterSafety
  • Keep water, non-perishable food, and an extra set of warm clothes in the car in case you get stranded during winter weather. #WinterSafety
  • Prepare for #winter by keeping an emergency supply kit in your car with these extras:
    • Jumper cables
    • Flares or reflective triangle
    • Ice scraper
    • Car cell phone charger
    • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
    • More: www.ready.gov/car #WinterSafety
  • Know what to do before, during, and after a winter storm.
  • Listen to local officials.
  • Have emergency supplies in place at home, at work, and in the car.
  • Stay off the road during and after a winter storm.
  • Have a carbon monoxide alarm in place, especially if using alternative heating devices.
  • Use safe heating devices.

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