As a major winter storm approaches the East Coast this weekend, AAA is urging motorists to be prepared and to remain cautious if driving. That’s because dangerous winter storms and bad weather are factors in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
In addition, a new AAA Foundation research report shows that 46 percent of crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter, making this the worst time of year for driving in treacherous conditions.
According to the report, most of the accidents involving bad weather happen overnight from 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m., when visibility is limited and roads are most likely to freeze. Previous research also has found that the rates of fatal crashes are higher during the first snowfall of the year than on subsequent days with snow.
“This weekend’s winter storm has great potential to create havoc on major roads used by millions of drivers every day,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast’s spokeswoman. “If you do venture out, drivers braving the bad weather should remain cautious and slow down to keep from being in a crash.”
The study analyzed bad weather and crashes throughout the year and found that rain, snow, sleet and fog are factors in more than 1.1 million police-reported crashes, 425,000 injuries and 5,100 traffic deaths per year. The study also showed that crashes in bad weather are generally less severe than crashes during clear weather.
AAA handles an average of 600,000 emergency roadside assistance calls nationally per week in the winter, with the most common problems being dead batteries, extractions, towing and flat tires. AAA recommends keeping the following items in your “emergency kit” for winter driving:
- Bag of abrasive materials such as sand, salt or cat litter.
- Snow shovel.
- Gloves or mittens Ice scraper and snow brush.
- Jumper cables.
- Warning flares or triangles.
- Cellular phone and emergency charger.
- Food and water.
- First aid kit.
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