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Avoid Risk of Accidents in Winter Weather


Gov. Nikki R. Haley proclaimed the week of Nov. 30 through Dec. 6 asWinter Weather Awareness Week. Although it took place during a warm spell, the attention was warranted, based on hazardous conditions that plagued the state in early 2014.

“The ice storm of February 2014 resulted in more than 364,000 electrical outages and more than $260 million in damage throughout the state,” reads the governor’s proclamation. “The loss of life and property during the winter months can be greatly reduced if everyone in the Palmetto State takes time now to prepare for the effects of a severe winter storm such as stocking up on extra emergency supplies and reviewing family safety plans.”

Winter Weather Guide Unveiled

The week saw the unveiling of the state-published “South Carolina Severe Winter Weather Guide,” which the South Carolina Emergency Management Division and the State Emergency Response Team co-issued. The guide provides practical tips on how to prepare for a winter weather emergency, to include steps that motor vehicle drivers should take.

A step ahead of the curve, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety had previously promulgated safety measures that motorists should take when driving on roads that are covered with snow and ice. Here are a few:

  • Slow down for wet, snowy, or icy conditions. You will be more likely to maintain control of your vehicle at lower speeds. Moreover, slow down at off-ramps, intersections, bridges and shady areas because of the risk of “black ice,” which is clear and difficult to see.

  • Decrease your speed and leave at least three times more space than usual between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

  • Avoid excessive actions while steering, braking or accelerating to lessen the chances of losing control of the vehicle.

  • Braking gently will help you to avoid skidding. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don’t have antilock brakes, gently pump the pedal to avoid wheel lock-up.

  • Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by assuming the vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

  • Remember that bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roadways tend to freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways, like bridges. Be aware that road conditions are constantly changing.

  • When driving in adverse weather conditions, look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do in order to remain alert to the actions of other vehicles.

As of Nov. 30, according to the state Department of Public Safety, 725 people have died on South Carolina highways, compared to 713 highway deaths during the same time period in 2013. So accidents are up slightly as we head into winter. The figures are a grim reminder that accidents are going to continue to happen, in any season, despite ongoing efforts to curb their incidence.

Anyone who is involved in an accident of someone else’s fault may need to worry about more than getting the car repaired. Sometimes there are injuries, and the complications may be so severe as to require multiple medical appointments and lost time off of work. The pain and suffering is protracted by the extent of the injury and the time it takes to fully heal.

Truck accidents, triggered by trucking company negligence and driver recklessness, can be even more catastrophic because of the sheer size of the truck in comparison to that of cars and motorcycles that are involved in the crash.

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