Why is driving during winter so dangerous?

In December of 2021, there were 372 fatal crashes on Texas roads. That’s 372 too many.

December was the third most deadly month on Texas roads last year. While we’re accustomed to harsh summers and 100+ temperatures in this part of the country, very few of us have experience driving in winter conditions.

Let’s look at a few of the specific reasons our roads can be so dangerous this time of year.

What makes winter driving so dangerous?

Poor road conditions. When it’s rainy and icy, your car takes longer to slow down. It’s easier to lose traction. Foggy windshields make it harder to see. All of these things make it tougher to drive this time of year.

Remember, it does not have to be snowing to create unsafe winter conditions. Roads can freeze long before snow starts to fall.

Shorter days. For many of us, the sun has already set by the time we leave work. While driving in the dark isn’t specific to winter, it is more common this time of year.

Increased holiday traffic. Generally speaking, the more people that are on the road, the more dangerous it gets. Traffic jams from people holiday shopping or visiting loved ones usually leads to more crashes.

Drunk drivers. People double their alcohol consumption during the winter months. This inevitably leads to an increase in drunk driving. In fact, drunk driving deaths increase by 10% on Christmas each year.

What can you do to stay safe?

Winterize your vehicle. Extreme temperatures make vehicle malfunctions more likely. Here’s a quick checklist to go through this winter:

  • Check engine fluid levels.
  • Have your brakes inspected.
  • Test your battery.
  • Use de-icing washer fluid.
  • Inspect your tire tread.
  • Test headlights and taillights.
  • Keep an ice scraper in your car.

Watch the weather. If you’re planning on hitting the road, keep an eye on the weather. Rain and freezing temperatures make roads incredibly dangerous to travel on. If the weather is severe, consider adjusting your travel plans.

Give yourself plenty of time to travel. Have you ever been running late to Christmas dinner at Grandma’s? You’re not the only one. Many wrecks happen when people are in a rush.

Plan for traffic and delays this time of year, and give yourself extra time when traveling. If it’s extremely cold, give your car a few extra minutes to warm up so your windshield can defrost before you hit the road.

Avoid crowded areas when possible. Holiday traffic is inevitable. However, if you can easily avoid it, you should. Crowded roads are dangerous roads, especially when you consider the increase in drunk driving this time of year.

Use these tips to stay safer this winter. Happy Holidays from all of us here at Daniel Stark!

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