According to Fox31 News, it appears that we are likely in for roughly another six weeks or so of snow, which is good news for skiers. It does remind us, however, that wintry weather conditions will continue to create potentially dangerous roadway conditions, particularly in the mountainous regions. Amy Ford, of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), says the agency is working hard to maintain the roads amid often challenging weather events. In the meantime, here are a few weather related driving facts that demonstrate how Colorado drivers compare to drivers in the rest of the country.
Most Dangerous Cities for Winter Driving
The most dangerous city for winter driving was Worcester, Massachusetts. The city has approximately 48 inches of annual precipitation and drivers are involved in a collision about every 4.3 years. This is 134% above the national average, which is roughly 10 years. The second leading city was Boston, with 4.4 years between collisions. The safest city is Brownsville, Texas, which benefits from not having much of any snow or ice on its roads with an average of 14.2 years between collisions. Fort Collins, Colorado, with all of its annual snowfall, was very close to Brownsville and took second place for the safest city!
Weather Related Crashes
There are typically over 5 million crashes across the country annually, with approximately 22% that are weather-related. These include collisions amid rain, sleet, snow, ice and more. The crashes led to roughly 445,000 injuries and 6,000 fatalities. Seventy-three percent of these weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement while 46% occur in the rain. About 17% of the collisions occur in snow or sleet, with 13% attributed to ice on the road.
Weather Impact on Traffic Flow
The flow of traffic is typically reduced by 14% in heavy rain and from 30 to 44% in heavy snow. On highways, light rain or snow will reduce average speed of travel by 3 to 13% and more under heavy rain or snow by up to as much as 40%. Every year, states and cities across the country spend an estimated $2.3 billion to combat snow and ice. State transportation departments now spend about 20% of their annual budget on managing roads in winter weather.
Colorado Winter Drivers
Colorado drivers are about average in terms of safely operating in winter weather conditions. Currently, Colorado drivers ranked 34th in driving safely in the snow compared to the other states. On the other hand, Colorado drivers are ranked as the 4th safest to drive in rain. The chance of being in a snow-related crash in Colorado is .24 for every 100,000 people. CDOT says that the state’s topography, such as mountain passes, makes the winter driving potentially more dangerous.
Winter Driving Tips
- Prepare your vehicle: Use all-season or winter grade motor oil. Make sure that your wiper blades are in good condition as well as your tires.
- Prepare ahead: Colorado’s winter weather can be very volatile and drivers should monitor the weather reports. CDOT now has a mobile app that provides up-to-the-minute reporting.
- Have supplies readily-available: Key supplies to maintain for winter driving include jumper cables, snow scraper, shovel, tire chains and tow rope.
- Avoid use of cruise control: In potentially dangerous roadway surface conditions, it is best to avoid using cruise control to allow for faster response time and control of the vehicle.
- Reduce speed: This tip is the most critical for safety. The ability to control a vehicle and the severity of a collision are heavily influenced by the speed you are traveling.
Colorado Road Safety Outlook
Ad we discussed in our blog titled Colorado Roadway Deaths Increased from 2016 to 2017, CDOT reports that roadway safety continued to be a challenge in 2017, as traffic fatalities slightly increased. Statewide, there were approximately two fatalities per day. There are a host of theories that attempt to explain this negative trend. CDOT spokesman Sam Cole explained that the primary problem is simply a lack of caution among drivers. Some experts attribute the roadway fatality trend to the state’s rising population. Cole says that the fatality rate is actually increasing at a higher rate than population growth. He says the primary factors are distracted driving, driving while impaired, and a failure to wear a seatbelt.
Whatever the cause, it’s happening. So keeping our tips in mind while driving the remainder of this winter is doing your part to help reduce the number of fatal collisions reported in Colorado in 2018.