Every year, winter weather causes accidents and injuries on North Carolina roads. Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures create hazardous driving conditions that can be difficult to navigate. The following tips will help you stay safe while driving in the North Carolina winter.
Winter Driving Statistics
Before diving into our winter driving safety tips, let us take a look at some statistics. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, there were nearly 83,563 reported crashes in North Carolina during the 2020-2021 winter season (December-March). Of those accidents, there were 33,191 resulting injuries and 499 fatalities.
1. Drive Slowly!
This may seem like common sense, but it is worth mentioning. Speed is a significant factor in winter weather crashes. The NCDOT reported that exceeding speed limits or driving too fast for conditions was a contributing factor in about 16,480 crashes statewide in 2021.
When the roads are covered in snow or ice, it is essential to slow down and give yourself extra time to brake. Remember, it takes longer to stop on slick or icy roads, especially when you are going downhill, so it is better to err on the side of caution.
2. Leave Plenty of Room
Following too closely is another major cause of winter weather crashes. When the roads are slippery, leaving plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you is crucial. This will give you extra time to brake if necessary.
Maintaining a safe following distance is even in the North Carolina statutes! A general principle for following another vehicle is to leave at least one car length for every 10 miles per hour you are driving. In adverse weather conditions, we recommend increasing this distance even further.
3. Keep Your Gas Tank Full or At Least Half Full
This is an excellent principle to follow all year round, but it is especially important in the winter. Having a full or half-full gas tank will help you avoid running out of gas if you get stranded in snow or ice.
It will also help keep condensation from building up in your fuel tank, which could lead to corrosion or freezing of the fuel lines. When the fuel lines freeze, gasoline cannot reach your engine, making your vehicle more likely to stall.
4. Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
Before you head out on the road, it is a good idea to plan your route ahead of time. This will help you avoid any areas that may be especially treacherous in winter weather or backed up due to traffic jams.
The NCDOT offers a real-time traffic map called DriveNC, which can let you know which roads are experiencing the most congestion at a particular time.
5. Pack a Winter Safety Kit
If you do find yourself stranded in the snow or ice, it is important to have a winter safety kit with you. This should include items like:
- First-Aid Kits
- Ice Scraper
- Jumper Cables
- Non-Perishable Food
You may also want to pack a small shovel and some sand or even kitty litter. These can be used to help get your car out of the snow or to provide traction if your tires start to spin.
Protecting Your Rights After a Winter Car Accident in Durham, NC
If you have been involved in a winter-weather car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. An experienced North Carolina car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and options under the law. At Wallace Pierce Law, we have years of experience handling all types of car accident cases, including those that occur in winter weather. We know what it takes to win these cases, and we are not afraid to fight for the compensation you deserve.
If you were injured in a winter car accident as a result of a negligent driver, call us today at (919) 887-7892 or fill out our form online for a free consultation!