Between 2011 and 2015, an average of 800 Americans a year lost their lives in crashes because of snow, freezing rain, sleet or ice, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Auto Insurance Center found, according to a report in USA Today.
For commercial drivers, winter presents some brutal challenges. Icy roads and blowing snow can mean everything from skidding and sliding to reduced visibility — setting the stage for accidents. In fact, over 200,000 collisions a year occur in winter weather conditions.
Now is a good time to remind your drivers about the precautions they should take to stay safe when driving during the winter. Experts offer the following advice:
Keep in mind that any action with your vehicle — from braking to turning — will take longer when driving on icy roads or in snow.
Leave Extra Following Distance
The rule of thumb for winter driving is to leave two-times the amount of following distance than in warmer seasons. This provides you with more reaction time in the event of skidding or encountering falling chunks snow from the roof of the vehicle ahead, for example.
Don't Become Over-Reliant on All-Wheel Drive
While all-wheel drive can help get a vehicle going in cold or snowy weather, it has no benefit when it comes to stopping a vehicle on icy roads. So don't be lured into a false sense of security.
Anti-Lock Brakes Help Reduce Skidding
These provide the shortest braking while also maintaining your ability to steer. Get accustomed to the pulsing sensation of anti-lock brakes are active and when they’re working, maintain firm pressure on the pedal.
Turn Into a Skid
If your vehicle should skid, avoid any quick motions to the throttle and brakes, and gently turn into the skid until you regain control of the vehicle.
Stay Calm and Alert
Winter weather can present unexpected challenges from white-out conditions to vehicles stalling out. Stay focused and never panic, and you’ll be ready to cope with any situation.