Risks of driving in the snow

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, January 31st, 2019 at 4:33 PM

It’s winter and it’s Erie, so of course snow is always in the forecast.

According to a USA Today article, Pennsylvania ranks third in the number of deadly accidents in the winter, with 2011 to 2015 bringing with it a total of 65. Ohio is first with 86 deaths. All of the states that border the Great Lakes have over 40 deaths in that time frame. The deadliest times were 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., with Saturday being the deadliest day of the week. 

In addition, according to the article, before the latest round of hurricanes, the number of winter weather related car accidents was larger than the number of deaths that are caused by tornadoes, hurricanes or floods.

According to safewinterroads.org, more then 116,000 are injured and over 1,300 are killed on roads that are snowy, icy or slushy. 

According to GoErie.com, there were two multi-car crashes on Sunday, Jan. 19, with other crashes being reported throughout the week. The first accident happened around 12:30 p.m. and had more than 20 vehicles involved, resulting in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 being shut down between the route 18 and 98 exit markers. Another multi-car crash happened around 2 p.m. in the westbound lanes of Interstate 90. There was already one multi-car crash reported on Jan. 25, the day this was being written. 

If you’re uncomfortable with driving in the snow or feel unprepared to, please do not drive in it, especially if it’s a bad storm. Unsure drivers do nothing but add to the issues that everyone on the road faces. 

If you have to be on the road, wait for the plows to run. Not only does it clear the road of snow, but a study from Marquette University looked at accidents on the highway in snow and found that road salt reduced crashes by 88 percent, injuries by 85 percent and the costs of accidents by 85 percent. PennDOT snow plows are equipped with a tracker that allows for data sharing in real time. The tracking system also allows information on how much material is being spread by the truck. You can find this information online at 511pa.com. 

A study by the University of Waterloo found that in Ontario, salting the roads caused a 93 percent reduction in accidents. There was a 42 percent reduction in accidents on small two lane roads as more traffic helps distribute the salt better. 

A Wired.com article talks about how the lower temperatures affects your tires, along with the snow and ice. A tire usually has grip that is near one, with one being a decent amount of friction and 0 being no friction at all. A tire’s grip drops to .7 on wet roads. On a road with snow, the grip drops to .15, and if there is ice, the grip drops to .08. To put that into context, rubbing two pieces of Teflon together has a friction of .04.  

So be careful on the road, make sure your tires are good and get snow tires if possible. Also remember that driving in the snow can be dangerous. 

Erica Burkholder | voices.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: viewpoint, snow

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