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Auto Accidents and Winter Road Safety

Casey Woodruff

winter roadAs we near the end of autumn, the weather continues to grow colder and residents in the Chicago area need to begin thinking about winter road safety. To prevent deadly auto accidents, it is important to understand the risks posed by winter weather on Illinois’ highways and to take preventive measures before a crash occurs. If you are involved in a serious auto accident, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Champaign auto accident lawyer. You may be able to file a claim for compensation.

Marquette University Study Examines Car Accidents in Winter

fact sheet from SafeWinterRoads.org cites an important study from Marquette University in which researchers analyzed rates of auto accidents and injuries resulting from snowy weather. Each winter, more than 116,000 people sustain personal injuries in accidents on snowy or icy roads, while more than 1,300 are killed. Generally speaking, winter roads can quickly become impassable. As such, even if a car accident is not caused by inclement weather, those environmental conditions can prevent an ambulance, a fire truck, or other emergency vehicles from reaching the scene of the crash in time to save lives and to prevent debilitating injuries.

What else do you need to know about the dangers of winter roads? The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) provides some significant facts and figures about winter weather and accidents, including:

  • More than 70 percent of America’s roads run through regions that receive an average of more than five inches of snow each year. And as residents of Illinois know, the highways around Chicago certainly fall within this category.
  • Vehicle crashes that occur during snowfall or sleet are very dangerous, and they result in about 900 fatalities each year and around 76,000 personal injuries.
  • About 25 percent of weather-related auto accidents occur on roads that have snow, slush, or ice. About 15 percent of traffic collisions occur when it is snowing or sleeting.
  • When there is light snow, highway speeds are reduced anywhere from 3 to 13 percent, while heavy snow reduces those speeds by 5 to 40 percent.
  • On arterial roads, snow or slush reduces speeds by 30 to 40 percent.

It is also important to remain off snowy roads until they have been salted. According to the Marquette University study, salted roads help to  reduce:

  • Auto accidents by 88 percent;
  • Personal injuries by 85 percent; and
  • Financial costs by 85 percent.

Preparing Your Car for Winter Driving

If you do have to drive your car during inclement weather, it is important to be prepared. An article from U.S. News & World Report emphasizes the following tips for avoiding winter roadway accidents:

  • Ensure that your car has sufficient antifreeze;
  • Keep your fuel level above the halfway mark;
  • Have your brakes checked;
  • Have your tires rotated and your alignment checked;
  • Replace your windshield wiper fluid with a “winter blend”; and
  • Keep your car packed with tire chains, warm clothing, a blanket, and a ration of food.

When car accidents happen during inclement winter weather, they can result in serious and even fatal injuries. If you or someone you loved got hurt in an auto collision, you should speak with a Champaign auto accident attorney about your case. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans to learn more about our services.

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