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Driving Safety Tips for a Washington Winter

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on February 10, 2020

Seattle and the surrounding areas are some of the most beautiful parts of the Pacific Northwest, but winter weather can make driving dangerous, difficult, or deadly. Rain, snow and icy roads make getting to work, school, or other location far more dangerous. Not every driver in the Seattle area drives safely, no matter what the weather – and a driver who speeds in rain, snow, or on icy roads can be the cause of serious injuries or the needless loss of life.

Seattle is one of the top five worst traffic cities in the country, so even on a sunny day, driving during rush hour is both dangerous and frustrating. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we represent people who are injured in auto accident cases – many of which occur during the winter season.

The Risks of Driving in the Seattle Winter

Winter driving in Seattle comes with some unique challenges and risks. If you live in the Seattle area, you face the following dangers:

  • Rainy weather driving: When it’s raining, or a storm has just ended, traffic is slower than usual, and some drivers will drive faster than is safe under these conditions. Hydroplaning, vehicles going out of control, and aggressive driving conduct puts everyone on the road at risk of an accident.
  • Holiday traffic: There’s nothing quite like traffic during the holiday season. Everyone’s last-minute shopping and frantic desire to return home to take part in festivities make for weeks of heavy, almost unbearable traffic. Statistically, accidents are much more likely to happen during the holiday season due to heavy traffic, along with the consumption of alcohol.
  • Fatigue: Extended drives to meet with family over the holidays makes for an unusually high number of fatigued drivers sharing the streets, roads, and highways. Tired drivers make mistakes, and drowsy driving has been established to be as dangerous as drunk driving. Stay alert to the driving conduct of those sharing the road, and if you observe a driver who is drifting out of a lane, speeding, or other dangerous conduct, fall back or get past that vehicle, safely.
  • Icy or snowy roads: Snowy weather doesn’t come often in Seattle, but when it does, it can be a disaster. Drivers who are unfamiliar with how to operate a vehicle on icy and snow pose a risk to everyone. Drive slowly and remember that braking can lead to a spinout. Rather than braking, shift down a gear. If your vehicle slips, slowly turn the wheel in that direction to regain control – not against the slip.
  • Mountain passes: When you’re trying to get to Mt. Rainier or Olympic National Park, you will be traveling through mountain passes. Never venture out on a road trip without first checking with weather and road conditions, and drive with great caution.

Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Park in the Winter

Our national parks are stunning in the winter but plan your trip carefully. The roads are often icy, and your view may be obscured by heavy cloud cover. Your vehicle must be equipped with the necessary safety gear, including chains, flares, a flashlight, food, and water, along with blankets. Keep in mind that no trip is worth risking your life or the lives of your passengers.

Tips for Driving in the Winter

Despite all the risks and dangers, millions of people still need to commute in the winter and don’t have the choice to avoid driving. To reduce the risk of accidents, here are some tips for driving in the winter:

  • Drive defensively
  • NEVER text and drive or any action that will take your eyes off the road ahead.
  • Consider weather conditions, leaving extra room when following another vehicle, and drive with great caution.
  • Ensure your vehicle is equipped with tires with enough tread to be safe on wet roadways.
  • Do not use cruise control in difficult weather conditions.
  • Slow down.
  • If another driver is pressing you to go faster, pull over and let them pass, and drop back.

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