Winter Driving Safety

WINTER OR SUMMER: WHEN IS IT THE SAFEST TIME TO DRIVE?

This is a good puzzler for your next safety meeting. The answer seems counterintuitive to everything we’ve ever been taught as professional drivers.

Year after year though, crash statistics show that the winter months of January, February and March are actually the ones with the fewest number of traffic fatalities. Summer and fall are always the highest. How can this be? Surely driving conditions are much more treacherous in winter than in the summer.

It’s not just the driving conditions – but how we react to them – that ultimately determines safety. Driving safely is an attitude we adopt every time we get behind the wheel.

With quick changes in winter weather conditions, our attitude and mindset becomes even more vigilant and laserbeam focused on paying attention, slowing down, adjusting to driving conditions, trip preparedness and watching out for the other guy. Professional drivers are constantly being trained on what to look out for during the winter months, and how to prepare for changes in driving conditions. But no matter how well we prepare, driving in inclement weather is such an edge-of-the-seat, white-knuckle experience and becomes so mind and thought intensive that we’re worn out by the time we drive out of it.

Perhaps this is the reason that most winter accidents occur in good or even ideal driving conditions. Think about how your attitude is when you finally drive out of that winter snowstorm. You’re tired, irritable, hungry, and now you’re behind schedule! But we can’t just chuck our safety attitude out the window and speed up to make up time. This is when we need to refocus, pull over, rest, get something to eat, re-assess our schedule and reset our priorities. Besides, if the weather was so bad that now we’re all worn out, perhaps we should have pulled over and waited it out in the first place instead of driving through it. Were we just "lucky" making it through? If we’d have pulled over, we’d be rested, better prepared to resume the trip and probably wouldn’t be so hungry either.

The next time you’re faced with driving in inclement weather, try to broaden your scope and understand that when you’re driving out of it, so are lots of other motorists. And this creates the same phenomenon that occurs during the summer months when traffic fatalities always are higher. Don’t let yourself be another statistic. The odds of being involved in a winter accident actually go up the more ideal the driving conditions become. Play it safe, continue to drive defensively throughout the entire winter season, no matter what the driving conditions may be. And always be particularly attentive while driving around any holiday throughout the entire year.