It’s that time of year again when the winter driving articles start appearing. In this post, however, we decided to address the topic in a different way. Rather than offering our readers a list of driving tips for the winter season, we decided to put together a top 10 list of causes of winter driving accidents.
Many of these are things drivers learned in CDL school. Others are learned through experience. All of them are important enough that drivers need to be reminded in the weeks immediately preceding the onset of winter weather.
1. Speed Does Not Commensurate with Weather Conditions
One of the first things a driver is taught when learning to drive a truck is the importance of adjusting driving based on weather conditions. This is critically important in the area of speed. Inclement weather dictates a driver slows down in order to have more time to react to potential problems. Going too fast in winter weather is never a good idea.
2. Aggressive Braking Practices
Winter weather often means being more gentle on the brakes – especially when snow and ice are present. Using the brakes too aggressively can send a truck into a jackknife or slide.
3. Reduced Traction in Snow
You might not think traction problems cause accidents, but they do. Reduced traction on a snowy road can send a truck into a ditch very quickly. In cases where a truck is completely stopped, getting started again could result in a slide that pulls a truck right off the road.
4. Following Too Closely
Following too closely during winter driving conditions increases the risk of rear-end accidents. Drivers should remember that rear-end accidents are almost always considered the fault of the driver behind.
5. Reduced Visibility
Reduced visibility could be the result of a dirty windshield or weather conditions. When the problem is the windshield, cleaning it is the solution. As for weather-induced visibility issues, drivers have to use common sense about how, and if, to proceed.
6. Poorly Negotiating Turns
Accumulated snow can make intersections and turns in the road seem wider than they really are. It is not uncommon to misjudge a turn, negotiate it poorly, and end up off the road as a result.
7. Poorly Negotiated Shifting
Manual shifting can be one of the driver’s best tools in snow and ice because it allows for using the natural power of the engine to better control the truck. By the same token, poorly negotiated shifting on snow and ice can have just the opposite effect. Drivers really need to understand shifting in relation to winter weather, whether you are in a manual or automatic transmission. Knowing how the truck’s transmission shifts is important to a driver’s success through winter.
8. Overestimating One’s Driving Abilities
Drivers who overestimate their own abilities may fail to adjust their driving to accommodate weather conditions. This can lead to accidents that could have been avoided by being more cautious.
9. Lack of Vehicle Preparation
Safe winter driving includes preparing a truck for weather conditions. That means making sure tires have enough tread, chains are on board when necessary, and so on. Driving a truck unfit for winter weather increases the risk of accidents.
10. Failure to Plan Routes
The failure to plan one’s route is indirectly related to accidents in that a lack of planning can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety that may inhibit the driver’s performance. A good plan helps to keep nerves steady so that the driver can concentrate on safe driving.
Now that you know the top 10 things that cause winter driving accidents, you can take the steps necessary to avoid them. As always, be safe out there.