Pennsylvania ranks top 5 most dangerous state for winter driving

Regional News

Snowplows works to clear the road during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Snow and ice blanketed large swaths of the U.S. on Sunday, prompting canceled flights, making driving perilous and reaching into areas as far south as Texas’ Gulf Coast, where snow and sleet were expected overnight. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(WTAJ) — More than 1,300 people die and another 100,000 are injured every year in the U.S. from snowy or icy roads, and data suggests Pennsylvania is among the worst states for winter driving.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s Fatality Analysis Reporting System for 2017 to 2019 suggest the following states to be the most dangerous roadway conditions during the winter months:

  1. Michigan
  2. Alaska
  3. Wyoming
  4. Ohio
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Montana
  7. Wisconsin
  8. South Dakota
  9. Nebraska
  10. Illinois

These findings incorporate data from the total fatalities reported in winter driving conditions according to MoneyGeek, a personal finance company that compiled all the data from the report.

MoneyGeek also listed ways people can prepare their vehicles for the changing road conditions before the sleet, ice and snow hit the roads. They include everything from how to stay safe on the road, what to keep in your car and safety-first measures.

Staying safe on the road

  • Know your car: Know how your vehicle responds to the snow. Most cars have anti-lock brakes, which means you need to apply firm, continuous pressure when breaking. Do not pump the brakes with anti-lock braking.
  • Drive slowly: It’s harder to stop your vehicle on slick roads, so decrease your speed and increase your follow distance. Drive to the conditions of the road, not the speed limit.
  • Avoid stopping: Like stopping, accelerating is also more challenging in icy conditions. Apply the gas slowly to gain traction as you get started, and once you’re going, don’t stop if you can avoid it. This means trying to slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, if possible. This is especially helpful for hills.
  • Keep calm when skidding: There are three rules to follow when losing control of your vehicle:
    1. Don’t hit the brakes. Braking makes the slide worse, ease your foot off the gas instead.
    2. Turn into the slide. Turn your wheels in the direction the back of the vehicle is sliding.
    3. Don’t overcorrect. Overcorrecting causes the car to keep spinning and is more likely to cause an accident.

Essentials to keep in your car

  • Spare tire
  • Chains
  • Snow shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Sand or kitty litter
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Water
  • Food/snacks
  • Cell phone charger
  • Medications

Safety-first measures

  • Get a checkup: Get your car serviced to check for leaks, worn hoses and other maintenance items. Your brakes, defroster, heater and lights should all be working correctly.
  • Reassess your battery: Better power drops with the temperature, so make sure it has enough voltage, amperage and reserve capacity to start on cold mornings. If it’s more than three years old, consider replacing it.
  • Verify your auto insurance: Checking your car insurance policy can help protect you in the event of a weather-related incident.
  • Top off windshield wiper fluid: Snowstorms can drain your windshielf wiper fluids quickly. Top off the washer reservoir before the first snow hits and keep refilling it throughout the season.
  • Fill up: To avoid getting stranded in the cold, always make sure your gas tank is full. It also works to add weight to your vehicle, making it less likely to slip and slide around.
  • Tread heavy: The minimum tread for any road conditions for tire tread is 2/32 of an inch. In the winter, the more tread, the better in slick conditions.
  • Winter tires: Consider investing in winter tires. They’re designed specifically for winter climates and driving conditions and can make you safer on the roads. Some states allow studded tires, which provides the best traction with pins that act like claws to dig into the ice.

For more information on winter driving or the data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, head to MoneyGeek’s website.

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