As the snow and ice season draws near, the number of weather-related motor vehicle accidents and injuries is expected to rise. Wintry conditions are a leading cause of weather-related crashes in Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) warns that motorists need to be prepared for what lies ahead.
Staying Safe on Illinois Roadways in Winter
Each year, more than 1,300 individuals lose their lives to motor vehicle crashes on icy, snowy or slushy roadways in the United States, and another 117,000 are seriously injured. To reduce the number of winter weather-related car crashes and to lower the risk of serious injury or death when an accident occurs, motorists are encouraged to follow a few steps.
- Slow it Down: Ice, snow and slush reduce friction and interfere with maneuverability. During heavy snow and sleet, visibility is also reduced. Harsh winter winds can cause blowing snow and unexpected obstacles in Illinois roadways as well. An effective precaution motorists can take when driving on wintry roads is to slow things down accordingly. Slower speeds, turns, acceleration and braking can significantly reduce the risk for accident or injury.
- Pack a Winter Emergency Kit: Becoming stranded after a car crash, especially in remote areas around Crystal Lake, can be very dangerous and can even prove deadly. Motorists should be prepared with an emergency kit that contains flares, a cell phone charger, jumper cables, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food items and a first aid kit.
- Be Aware of Surroundings: Drivers should avoid the use of cellular phones, other handheld devices, and any additional distractions while driving in any conditions, but especially during dangerous winter weather. They should be on the look out for "black ice", fallen branches, and accumulated snow. Additionally, drivers need to watch for vehicles that may be stranded along the road.
- Use Extra Caution: Motorists need to be extra cautious when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles. They should also be extra careful when nearing areas that are prone to icing like intersections, on and off ramps, bridges and shady areas of the road.
- Stay Informed: Drivers should check the weather forecast frequently when anticipating travel, and always inform someone of the travel route to be used. If severe winter weather is predicted, individuals should avoid traveling if possible, or take public transportation when it's available. Illinois travelers can check road conditions by visiting gettingaroundillinois.com or by calling 800-452-IDOT.