Snow is often thought of as the biggest winter danger, but cold weather, road treatments and black ice could also affect driving conditions.
In Missouri, driving conditions can change from one season to the next. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, snow was a factor in 4,862 crashes in a single year. However, snow, which can affect visibility and grip, is not the only winter danger that drivers should be aware of.
When the temperature starts to drop, vehicles may require more maintenance than in the warmer weather. For example, tires may need extra air when it is cold out because of the change in atmospheric pressure. Driving with the incorrect tire pressure could lead to bad gas mileage or an increased risk of a flat tire. In some cases, incorrectly filled tires could make the car harder to control and lead to a collision.
Cold weather, especially temperatures below freezing, may also affect the car battery. If the battery is not connecting correctly, the vehicle may be unable to start and could leave drivers stranded. Typically, newer batteries are able to better withstand the change in temperature.
While the cooler temperatures can affect the automobiles on the road, it also poses a risk to drivers. If a problem arises in the summer, the driver may be able to wait in the car until a tow truck arrives without any problems. In the winter, it may be too cold to safely and comfortably wait in the vehicle.
Because ice can form during the winter, it is not uncommon for a salt spray to be used on the roads. While salt may help increase safety, it is corrosive, so it can introduce rust to any type of vehicle. The finish of the car and the undercarriage are at the highest risk for this corrosion. If the automobiles are not washed routinely, critical parts of the car may be destabilized, which could increase the dangers of driving.
Black ice blends in with the surrounding pavement leaving many drivers unaware of the slippery road conditions until it is too late to change course. Even when the roads are covered in regular ice, drivers may have a harder time slowing down or turning because the tires lose traction. This type of hazard can form in circumstances, such as the following:
- Shaded parts of the road do not get direct sunlight, so the temperatures may remain low and cause a refreezing of melted snow.
- When sleet or freezing rain falls, the rain may freeze before it hits the pavement.
- Around dawn and the late evening, the colder temperatures may cause melted snow to refreeze.
Drivers should learn about the current road conditions before leaving the house to better prepare themselves.
In Missouri, road conditions can change overnight. If an accident takes place because of a danger associated with winter, it may be beneficial to talk with an attorney who is familiar with these types of cases.