Increased Caution Required When Driving In Missoula During Winter

On 13 January this year, the  Montana Department of Transportation reported a multi-vehicle collision that occurred approximately 6 miles east of the Superior Overpass. Although the exact cause of the crash is yet to be determined, the roads were reported as covered in ice and snow. Severe weather like that experienced in Missoula and the surrounding area this winter can be both terrifying and extremely dangerous for road users. In fact, nearly 500,000 road accidents occur in the USA every year due to poor visibility and compromised road conditions associated with extreme winter weather. While not all accidents can be prevented, taking special precautions during inclement weather can reduce the  risk of being in an accident significantly.

Maintain a safe driving speed

Although speeding is always dangerous, driving fast in bad weather conditions is a recipe for disaster. Apart from snow, black ice was also reported covering roads all across Montana this winter, leading to several accidents. While it is acceptable to slow down somewhat during inclement weather, driving too slow can also be hazardous. If you are driving too slow, your chances of being rear-ended by someone driving at normal speed increase drastically. This is especially true as you round blind curves and ascend and descend blind rises.  According to personal injury attorneys,  determining the speed someone was driving at is a top priority when a claim is submitted following an accident. Driving at a safe speed, therefore, can not only prevent serious injury caused by a crash, but help win a personal injury case as well.

Remember to extend your following distance

While slowing down during poor driving conditions is vital, so too is maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other road users. If the road is dry, bringing your car to a standstill requires minimal space and time. When driving under normal conditions, staying 3 to 4 seconds behind the person driving in front of you is considered sufficient. Driving on a road that is wet or covered in ice or snow, however, necessitates a following distance of at least 6 to 8 seconds. In order to further avoid rear-ending anyone during inclement weather, it is of extreme importance to ensure that your brakes are in optimal working condition.

Make sure your tires are in good condition

The limited traction tires enjoy when the road is wet or  covered in ice and snow poses a grave danger, according to the National Safety Council. Missoula is known to have long, cold, and often wet winters that make the use of winter tires an absolute necessity. These tires have significantly larger gaps in their tread patterns, and are also made with a more malleable rubber compound that helps to ensure a better grip on the road, even during the worst conditions imaginable. A very useful feature, traction control, comes standard on most vehicles these days, which will help your vehicle gain traction in wet, icy or snowy conditions.

Driving in inclement weather poses a unique set of challenges to road users. As long as drivers adhere to all the rules of the road and practice a healthy dose of common sense, driving in winter does not have to be overly stressful for anyone.