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Drivers face many challenges during the winter season, especially drivers who are in states known for icy and snowy conditions. Winter weather conditions can make driving challenging, and drivers must be aware of their surroundings to avoid making common mistakes. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) winter driving statistics for the United States, 17% of all vehicle crashes occur during winter conditions. Additionally, there are about 156,000 crashes annually due to icy roads.
“The most common mistake that I see every winter is people driving too fast during unsafe weather conditions such as icy roads,” said Michael Borkowski, an Occupational Safety and Health Specialist at the Naval Safety Center. “Drivers should be aware of black ice, a condition in which roads have a light coat of ice that can be difficult to identify. Black ice breaks the traction between the tires and the pavement and once this happens there isn’t much that a driver can do to avoid a crash. Drivers should always slow down when there are winter conditions present.”
There are multiple things that drivers can do to prepare their vehicle for the winter season. This process is also known as winterizing a motor vehicle.
Sailors should winterize their vehicle before traveling through northern states during the winter holiday season, said Borkowski.
Always check your tires before traveling to make sure they have the appropriate tread depth for proper traction. Some other things people need to check in their cars are the engine and the battery because sometimes heat from the summer season can negatively affect the cold cranking amps of the battery, which is essential to starting the engine during colder temperatures. Liquids inside of a vehicle can become frozen when temperatures drop below the freezing point which causes the liquids to expand and possibly crack whatever is containing them.
“Other things that drivers normally don’t think about is making sure that they have the correct water to antifreeze ratio in the vehicle,” said Borkowski. “This can help minimize the chance of radiator issues. There are also additives that can be combined with window washer fluid to prevent it from freezing and aid in removing ice and snow from the front windshield while driving.”
There are also multiple resources available for Sailors to access helpful information that may be useful in an unexpected situation. There’s tons of information on Naval Safety Center’s YouTube channel and website. There are multiple presentations, posters, briefings, and articles about safety. For more information regarding winter driving go to https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips.
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