Slow Down in Winter Weather

An SUV carrying five people went off State Road 28 east of East Wenatchee last month and slid down an embankment, according to a report in the Yakima Herald. Two passengers, including a 9-year-old, were injured. The Washington State Patrol said the driver had been going too fast for road conditions.

As winter settles in throughout the northwest, motorists must adjust to the conditions that winter weather brings. Not surprisingly, the number of collisions throughout the State of Washington increases during the winter months. Crashes in which speed is a contributing factor, in particular, increase during the winter.

From November through February, speed is listed as a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all car crashes in Washington State. In 2010, more than 9,000 crashes were blamed on speed during the winter months.

Often, motorists are not actually operating above the posted speed limit; however, that does not mean that speed wasn’t a contributing factor. The posted speed limit is intended to be the maximum allowable speed on a roadway where conditions are perfect. In the winter, however, road conditions in the State of Washington are rarely perfect. For this reason, motorists must adjust their speed.

Be Prepared to Wait for Help

When a driver fails to heed the road conditions, a collision can result. If you are in an accident and your car slides off the road, rescue crews may be slowed by snow and ice. To give yourself a better chance of surviving until help arrives, be sure to carry the following in your vehicle:

  • Spare clothes including waterproof boots
  • Blankets, extra hats and gloves
  • Road flares or hazards triangles
  • Shovel and basic tools
  • Water and small supply of high protein snacks
  • Flashlight
  • Battery powered radio
  • Basic first aid kit