Is Your Car a Winter Death Trap?
Winter weather brings dangerous conditions of snow and ice on the roads. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 1.3 million car accidents, or 23 percent of the total, are weather-related. Knowing the facts can help keep you safe.
Ice and snow make driving more dangerous, but the good news is that most people in colder climates are aware of this and make up for it by driving less driving more carefully during inclement weather. That means that snowy days can actually be safer overall. An exception to this rule is the first day after a major snowstorm. According to researchers, the first snowy day of the year is substantially more dangerous than other snowy days, simply because drivers have not yet regained their sense of the snow. Drivers should also be aware that while snow and ice are hazardous, black ice is even more dangerous, because the road may only appear wet when it is actually icy.
In addition to being aware of dangerous conditions, drivers should take care to winterize their vehicles. Make sure the lights, exhaust system, heater, defroster and brakes are all in good working condition. Replace wiper blades, inspect tires and carry snow chains. Test your battery, get your oil changed and make sure your antifreeze is a proper 50:50 mix of antifreeze and water. Drivers should always carry emergency supplies such as drinking water, a flashlight, first-aid kit and flares, in case they become stuck in the snow.
If it does become necessary to wait out a snowstorm in a parked car, it is imperative that drivers make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. Each year more than 100 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in vehicles, often because they are running the car’s engine to keep warm and the exhaust pipe is blocked by snow, forcing odorless but deadly carbon monoxide into the passenger compartment of the vehicle.