If you live in Colorado, you already know how slippery the roads can get and how poor the visibility can become during winter. Still, these dangers can begin to feel so commonplace that locals like us take them for granted. When that happens, we may suddenly find ourselves on the wrong end of an icy car accident, eagerly awaiting an ambulance that, any other time of year, would have arrived already.
For the sake of your own safety and that of everyone else on the road, let’s take a moment to appreciate the gravity of our responsibility as winter drivers. Even more important — let’s make a conscious effort to implement best driving practices for Colorado’s particularly dangerous road conditions.
Injury Statistics for Winter Drivers
According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 70% of U.S. roads are located in areas that receive more than 5 inches of snowfall each year. It’s no coincidence that these areas have noticeably higher accident and injury rates during the winter months. To put all this in perspective, consider these statistics gathered by the Federal Highway Administration:
- Each year, more than 1,300 people are killed and 116,800 are injured in car accidents that occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement.
- About 24% of weather-related auto accidents happen on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement — 15% occuring during snowfall or sleet.
- U.S. government agencies spend over $2.3 billion on snow and ice control operations annually.
Even with all of this knowledge at your disposal — and even with our government spending billions of dollars each year to increase our safety — it’s far too easy to add to these unfortunate statistics. So let’s deliberately work to do the exact opposite. Below, I’ve provided a list of winter driving tips to keep you, your passengers, and other Colorado drivers safe this winter.
Tips for Colorado Winter Driving
Car wrecks are a daily occurrence even during the summer months. What makes winter particularly dangerous, though, are factors like poor visibility, slippery pavement, decreased maneuverability, and slower response times from emergency vehicles.
On a conscious level, you know all of this. However, between the million items on your to-do list and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, these facts aren’t always at the forefront of your mind when you get behind the wheel. To remedy that, I strongly encourage you to actively turn the following checklist into a non-negotiable part of your driving routine this winter:
- Check the Weather. Before you step out of the house, check in with your favorite weather channel and/or road conditions app — whatever it takes to map out the safest route from Point A to Point B.
- Get in the Right Mindset. It may sound silly, but it’s not. You need to be in the right state of mind to drive very deliberately and safely. Being late for an appointment is better than rushing and paying the ultimate price. In fact, it may help you to put a sign next to your front door that forces you to take a second and remember what’s at stake when you get in the car.
- Carpool If You Can. Fewer cars on the road mean better odds of avoiding a wreck. Take the time to see if you can carpool with coworkers, friends, teammates, and others headed to the same destination.
- Salt Your Driveway. Even though your driveway isn’t the most likely place to get in a wreck, a lot can happen between the garage and the street. Start your drive off right by making your home a safer place to park and walk.
- Use Your Headlights. Hopefully, as a Colorado resident, you realize that headlights are a crucial part of the winter driving process. Often, they aren’t there to help you see where you’re going but to help other cars see you! In sleet, rain, or snow, turn them on!
- Use Your Common Sense. You’ve heard all the lectures about driving slowly, wearing your seatbelt, and following a safe distance behind other vehicles. Take those pieces of advice to heart, no matter how slow traffic is moving. Black ice is a very real threat.
- Don’t Be a Distracted Driver. The only thing that can make winter driving even more dangerous — being a distracted driver to boot. DON’T be the person fiddling with your phone or radio when you should be focused on the road.
As a car accident attorney (and a Colorado resident myself!), I’ve seen more than my fair share of injuries and wrongful deaths that should have been avoided. Please take these winter driving tips to heart so that you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe this holiday season.
If You Get in an Accident
It’s my sincerest hope that this information helps you avoid getting hurt on the road this winter, but as we all know, sometimes accidents are unavoidable. If you or a loved one gets injured in a wreck caused by another driver, please don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Edward Smith for legal guidance. For more than 26 years, I’ve been helping people throughout the Loveland, Brighton, and Firestone areas collect payment from those responsible for such incidents.