In Texas, we rarely see several feet of snow, but we do see plenty of ice. Ice storms, freezing rain, and mixtures of snow and rain can create deadline roadway conditions in urban and rural environments. Meteorologists strongly suggest staying indoors during inclement winter weather, but some people can’t stay home. If you understand the most common types of winter accidents, you can take steps to avoid them and stay safe during any type of weather.
Common Winter Accidents in Texas
A winter accident can total a car and leave you stranded in cold weather. It may also leave you facing hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Avoid these most common types of winter accidents:
- Rear-endings. Read end incidents happen year round, but they prove especially dangerous in winter. When drivers follow other vehicles too closely and need to stop, they can easily slide on slick rainy and icy roadways into the next car. These common accidents are also some of the most preventable. Maintain your distance in inclement weather to avoid sliding into the vehicle in front of you. If you can see the point where the rear tires of a vehicle meet the roadway, you can steer around it if needed. Turn this simple rule into a habit to avoid these costly and preventable winter collisions.
- Black ice accidents. Black ice is more dangerous than other winter conditions for one reason: you cannot see it. As soon as the roadway temperatures drop below freezing, rain begins to freeze on the roadways. Steering and braking on slick surfaces can turn into uncontrollable slides and contribute to head-on collisions, T-bone accidents, and single car accidents. If you encounter black ice on the roadways and begin to slide, avoid tapping on the brakes. Release the accelerator and steer the vehicle in the appropriate direction. Try not to overcompensate if you begin to move in the wrong direction.
- Poor visibility accidents. During winter storms, freezing rain, fog, and snow can limit visibility. Frozen precipitation on the ground can also obscure reflectors and line on the roads. In poor visibility conditions, drivers who maintain high speeds increase the risk of accidents. To avoid visibility-related accidents in winter, slow down and pull over into a safe location to wait out particularly rough storms.
- Single car incidents. On rural roads in the winter, single cars on the roadway can face any number of winter hazards including poor visibility and black ice. Sometimes, drivers let down their guard while driving on empty roadways which increases the risk of accidents. Other times, poor traction, hazards, and automotive defects contribute to incidents. Single car accidents in winter weather can strand drivers on the roadways until help arrives. Use the same caution you would in urban settings when you drive in low-traffic conditions during winter to reduce the likelihood of a single car incident.
In addition to these common accidents and prevention techniques, drivers can take steps to increase roadway safety. Maintain your vehicle according to manufacturer guidelines, slow down, and eliminate distractions if you plan to drive during inclement weather.
Preparing for the Unexpected: Winter Accidents
While you can control your own driving behaviors during winter, you cannot always account for other drivers’ behaviors and vehicle defects. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle during the winter months to protect yourself and loved ones from cold conditions. Fill a box with water, food, blankets, hand warmers, a phone charger, and first aid supplies. In rural areas, you may reach 911 or send a text message even if your phone shows limited service.
With proper preparations, you can handle any situation you encounter on the roadways in Houston and surrounding areas. After an accident, remember to take pictures of the vehicles and the weather conditions to protect your right to compensation.