Heavy Snows Create Chaos at Snoqualmie Pass

Winter was slow coming this year, but it looks like there’s enough white stuff to make a mess out of the roads, especially the mountain passes. Interstate 90 was closed for several hours today because of spin outs and crashes amid the heavy snow up there. Although lanes in both directions have reopened, chains are required for travel. Six inches of snow has fallen in as many hours, with a lot more to come.

What does that mean for travel? Winter storm warnings may seem like a fantasy or even a bit over-reaching from what we’ve had so far this season. If you are planning to make the jaunt through the mountains this holiday weekend–think twice before you hit the road. A winter weather advisory shows that six inches of snow could easily reach 15-30 inches within a day. Cooler temperatures at night can turn slushy roads into a hazardous nightmare.  https://komonews.com/news/local/heavy-snow-closes-eastbound-snoqualmie-pass-as-stormy-pattern-begins

A Grain of Salt

Driving in snow and poor weather can be stressful enough, without adding to it the chance of a collision or being caught in a dangerous situation. When roads are impassable, emergency services can’t reach those in need either. The Department of Transportation closes roads and passes to ensure that drivers are not only safe, but if they were in a traffic accident, help would be accessible.

More than 116,000 Americans are injured and over 1,300 are killed on winter-weather accidents every year. It is no wonder that the sight of salt trucks reassures some drivers. Salt keeps roads open and safe. In a study done by Marquette University, they examined the impact of salted roads on highway accidents in the snow. Road salt reduced:

  • Crashes by 88%
  • Injuries by 85%
  • Accident costs by 85%

Every year, 24% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy roads, and 15% happen during snowfall or sleet. Statistics from the Federal Highway Administration indicate that 70% of the population lives near to or in areas that experience snow, sleet, and slush in the winter months. They are vulnerable to winter-driving conditions and should take additional precautions when traveling during the winter season. https://saltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/si_road_salt_fact_sheet.pdf

Winter Driving Tips

Most driving advice seems like common sense, but in winter driving conditions–it could mean the difference between life and death. Here are seven tips to help keep you safe on the roads this winter.

Tip One

Always wear your seat belt. That means the shoulder harness is adjusted to the appropriate height for the driver and it crosses the shoulders and buckles low across the hips. Hooking the belt under your arm is dangerous. Seat belts respond to the vehicle’s braking system. You want all the safety and security the belt offers when it is worn in the right place.

Tip Two

If you have passengers under the age of 13, make sure that they are properly seated in the vehicle. That means boosters, car seats, and seat belts are matched to the age and weight of the child.  Remember to remove puffy coats before buckling up.  For reasons why, check out this article: https://fieldinglawgroup.com/accident-tips/coats-car-seat-combination-can-dangerous-car-accident/

Tip Three

Avoid all distracting behaviors. Don’t put yourself at additional risk by using cell phones, i-pads, or other electronic equipment while driving. You can be cited for an electronic-DUI.

Tip Four

Always driver sober. That doesn’t mean just booze either! Alcohol and drugs impair perception, judgment, motor skills and memory–all of which are critical for anyone operating a motor vehicle.

Tip Five

Keep a full tank of gas throughout the winter. You don’t want to be on fumes coming through a mountain pass, only to find that it has been closed due to avalanche control or poor driving conditions. Fuel is critical to getting you home and keeping you warm if you are stuck in your car during a road closure.

Tip Six

Cold weather is hard on batteries. Maintain your vehicle prior to a crisis situation, so that it can be the least of your worries. Windshield wipers, brake and headlights, good tires, and fuel are necessary components to a less stressful drive in winter weather.

Tip Seven

If you are driving in areas that are new to you, know before you go what the weather entails. GPS and other apps are great information tools to help prevent a winter driving headache. Don’t take routes that are prone to bad weather, more rural, or that you aren’t familiar with. Let others know your plans and estimated arrival time as well. https://nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips

Our Personal Injury & Auto Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help

We all drive through life, even through the snow and slush. With a little preparation and information ahead of time, we can still safely get where we need to go-even if it takes a little extra time.  Share these tips and checklists with others, to help ensure a calm and safe commute in winter conditions.

If you or someone you know has been injured or hurt in a winter driving accident, contact Fielding Law Group today, for a free legal consultation. When it can be shown that another motorist acted negligently, violated a traffic law, or failed in any way to drive safely, we can help you recover and receive the compensation you deserve. Remember–Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!