Although most of us like spending winter days indoors, curled up in some blankets, binge-watching our favorite TV shows, at some point, we have to go outside to do our errands or so and face the harsh weather.
That said, drivers are at high risk on the road during winter.
However, it may come as a surprise that the summer months can be more deadly for drivers than the winter. Nevertheless, looking at most winter driving statistics, it becomes evident that storms, rain, fog, snow, and ice on the roads represent a considerable traffic hazard.
All in all, our principal goal is to make people aware of the dangers that come with winter driving but also to help everyone stay safe. That’s why we also compiled a list of some valuable tips on winter driving. So let’s check everything out.
The Winter Driving Facts and Statistics You Must Know (Editor’s Pick)
- A quarter of weather-related traffic accidents are snowy, slushy, or icy road accidents
- A third of British survey respondents don’t drive slower in wet weather conditions
- The winter month with the most traffic fatalities is December
- Compared to winter months, summer months have 29% more deaths in car crashes
- In the summer months, 20% more miles are driven than in the winter months
- Last winter, as snow hit Minnesota, 261 vehicle crashes were reported in only 18 hours
- The use of salt on four-lane highways decreases accidents by 93%
- 15% of the traffic accidents caused by bad weather are snow or sleet accidents
Winter Driving Accident Statistics
1. Over 70% of US roads are in snowy regions.
On average, these regions receive more than 5 inches of snowfall annually. Considering that snow and sleet make roads slicker and reduce visibility, there’s an increased risk of traffic accidents in these regions.
2. Almost 70% of the US population lives in snowy regions.
Since snowy weather can significantly obstruct driving, a huge portion of the population has a higher risk of crashing their car during the winter.
More specifically, ice and snow decrease vehicle maneuverability and pavement friction, leading to lower roadway capacity, slower speed, and higher crash risk.
3. When considering winter traffic, car driving accounts for about 70% of accidental fatalities.
Therefore, winter weather poses the greatest danger to people traveling by car. Moreover, it can be ten times longer for a car to stop on icy or wet roads than dry pavements.
However, the use of road salt helps in these situations. Namely, its use on four-lane highways decreases accidents by 93%.
4. Statistics on winter driving note that 17% of all vehicle crashes happen during winter conditions.
This is a clear sign that people don’t take driving in winter conditions seriously enough. Besides driving carefully, drivers should also prepare their vehicles for the harsh winter weather.
Moreover, children under 13 should be in height- and weight-appropriate car seats, and adults should wear a seatbelt.
5. Traffic accidents on snowy, slushy, or icy roads account for 24% of weather-related traffic accidents.
In addition, 15% of the traffic accidents caused by bad weather are sleet or snow accidents.
As for snowstorms, good drivers avoid driving when there’s one. However, if a snowstorm starts while you’re already driving, pull over to a safe and out-of-the-way place, and wait for the storm to pass. However, if you insist on driving, maybe you should find out what to do after a car accident.
6. 1,836 people die annually due to snowy and icy pavement.
Many people end up injured due to snowy and icy roads, too, and that number is considerably higher than the number of deaths. As a matter of fact, approximately 136,309 people get injuries annually.
7. More than 1,300 people get killed in car crashes in the snow or ice every year.
(FHA, Action Law Group)
This shocking fact should serve as a reminder that it’s vital to drive carefully at all times, especially in adverse weather conditions.
However, slick or icy roads are not the only causes of these winter crashes. In fact, drunk drivers, neglecting car maintenance, and poor road visibility are the other primary causes of winter car accidents.
8. About 76,000 people get injured in traffic accidents during sleet or snowfall each year.
In addition, 900 people die in car accidents during snowfall or sleet. Furthermore, every year, over 116,800 people get injured in car accidents on snowy, slushy, or icy roads.
When pavement’s slick, drivers can quickly lose control of their vehicles, resulting in many traffic accidents every year.
9. In February 2021, almost 40 vehicles were involved in a pileup in Iowa, leaving many people injured.
Iowa winter driving statistics showed that two Iowa State Patrol cars were involved in the crash, which happened at noon, as the weather got quite snowy. Apparently, the blizzard-like conditions and icy roads were responsible for the first wreck, which led to the chain reaction.
10. As snow hit Minnesota in December 2021, 261 vehicle crashes were reported in only 18 hours.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, 26 people were injured in these car crashes, but no fatalities were reported. State troopers also responded to four jackknifed tractor-trailer rigs and 115 vehicle spinouts during the same period.
11. Driving in bad weather statistics from 2021 show 33% of British survey respondents don’t drive slower in wet weather.
The survey was conducted among 2,000 drivers in the UK. Alarmingly, about a third of the respondents claimed they had driven over the speed limit in wet urban, rural, and motorway roads. On top of that, 7% confessed to increasing their speed in wet compared to dry weather.
12. As per winter driving accidents, 800 Americans die annually in car crashes due to winter weather conditions.
The car wrecks are usually caused by freezing rain, snow, sleet, or ice. Unfortunately, if bad weather forces you to be stranded in your car, being prepared is the difference between life and death. But don’t worry, we’ll give you some winter driving tips later.
13. Black ice statistics show that black ice forms when the temperature is 32 degrees, and there’s rain and moisture.
(Snow Sport Zone)
Black ice can form anywhere on the road, but it is tough to spot. What’s tricky about it is that it has the form of water in its appearance. However, if the temperature is 32 degrees or lower, keep in mind that any wet spots you see on the road are most likely ice.
Summer Driving vs. Winter Driving Statistics
14. December has the most traffic fatalities in winter.
According to an NHTSA study, December is the month with the highest number of traffic fatalities among the winter months. Some of the reasons for this month having the most winter fatalities are:
- drinking and driving
- lower temperatures affecting vehicle performance
- more people on the road
- more frequent night driving
15. August has the highest number of traffic fatalities overall.
August is the deadliest month for traffic accidents. July and October follow close by. Considering these winter driving facts, it comes as a surprise that there aren’t any winter months among the top three deadliest ones.
16. Summer months have 29% more deaths in car crashes than winter months.
This can be easily explained by the fact that there are more vehicles on the roads during the summer months. After all, it’s usually the best time to go on a road trip. On top of that, students don’t go to school then, so there are more inexperienced drivers on the roads.
17. 20% more miles are driven in the summer months than in the winter months, as per summer and winter driving statistics.
As a result, there are more people on the roads, which increases the risk of car accidents and deaths. That’s why drivers should be extra careful during these months when there is more traffic on the roads.
18. June, July, and August represent the highest risk of teen deadly car crashes, accounting for 43% of annual teen car crashes.
This is the period when most teenage drivers are on the roads since they’re on their summer break. In addition, they have less driving experience than older drivers, which makes them more prone to car accidents.
Let’s not forget that teenagers are ten times more likely to have a fatal car accident than adults. Moreover, weather-related car accidents statistics show that fatal teen driver accident risk rises by 14% during these summer months.
19. Independence Day has the highest number of traffic fatalities — 450 over the four-day holiday period.
(Dale E. Anstine)
Generally, holidays carry a greater risk of traffic fatalities since more people are on the road than usual. Thanksgiving is also one of the riskiest months for drivers, leading to many winter car crashes.
Therefore, drivers should be cautious when driving during the Christmas holidays, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.
20. There’s an increased risk of blowouts in hot weather.
(Austin American Statesman, Aceable)
Drivers should regularly check their tire air pressure since improperly inflated tires can lead to a blowout in high heat. According to the NHTSA, over 700 traffic fatalities occur due to tire problems.
Winter Driving Tips
Considering how many car accidents occur in winter weather conditions, let’s focus on some safety rules and practical tips for driving in adverse weather.
Prepare Your Vehicle
- Check that your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread.
- Test your vehicle’s battery.
- Have at least half a tank of fuel at all times.
- Bring important medications, extra food and water, and warm clothes.
- Another way of preparing for winter driving hazards is having cold-weather gear, such as a flashlight, a glass scraper, and blankets.
- Adjust your speed to road conditions and weather.
- Don’t use cruise control on slick pavement.
- Accelerate slowly to avoid skids.
- If you have antilock brakes (ABS), you can apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t, pump your brakes to prevent your wheels from locking up.
- Increase your following distance on the road.
These tips are based on the more common risks that winter driving conditions produce, so they should help reduce your risk of having a car accident.
Driving on Slippery Roads: Is Temporary Winter Car Insurance Worth it?
If you live in a snowy region with harsh winters, you might think about contacting your car insurance company and upgrading your car insurance during the winter season.
In detail, freezing rain, snow, sleet, and ice can all make driving considerably more dangerous by reducing visibility and making roads slippery. We’ve seen the dangers these conditions represent in our driving in bad weather statistics.
There are two insurance coverage options worth considering for your winter upgrade: comprehensive and collision.
Although these aren’t required by law unless you have a lease or loan for your car, they can be a wise choice for people driving in areas prone to adverse weather. Both insurance options cover damage either when you were responsible or when the fault couldn’t be determined.
As its name suggests, collision car insurance pays for the damage to your car caused by a collision, often a part of ice road accidents. With this type of insurance, you’ll be covered when your car hits another vehicle or object, such as a tree or fence, or if it rolls over.
On the other hand, comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your car that isn’t collision-related. For example, you’ll be reimbursed if your vehicle gets stolen, vandalized, or damaged by hail.
All in all, we compiled these winter safety statistics to make you aware of how deadly snowy and icy roads can be and to remind you that you should take winter driving seriously.
Whenever you’re behind the wheel, especially in adverse weather conditions, you should stay alert at all times and keep your eyes on the road. Hopefully, our tips will help you steer clear of car accidents and enjoy your ride. Drive safely!
People Also Ask
Although the statistics above prove that cold weather is highly unfavorable for driving, more car accidents occur during summer.
As a matter of fact, August has the highest number of traffic fatalities overall. Moreover, summer months have 29% more deaths in car crashes than winter months.
One possible explanation for this is that roads are more often heavily congested during summertime. In addition, there’s more road construction, which increases the risk of traffic accidents.
When driving on snowy or icy roads, it can take up to 10 times longer to stop. Therefore, you should reduce your speed by about 30% when driving on wet pavement and by at least 50% on roads covered with snow.
Moreover, snow causes roads to be very slippery and slick, so it’s easy to lose control of your car when it loses traction. Another hazard is the limited visibility when driving in the snow. Cold weather may also cause vehicle malfunction.
There are many causes of winter driving incidents, including drunk drivers, icy and slick roads, poor visibility, or neglecting car maintenance. However, the leading cause of these crashes is snow and ice on the roads. In those conditions, the traction on the tires is less effective.
Moreover, there’s also black ice. Since it’s difficult to see it, drivers can easily drive over it and lose control.
Every winter, the number of vehicle accidents, also leading to many injuries or fatalities, is high. Around 17% of all vehicle accidents happen in winter. More specifically, 24% of weather-related car accidents occur on slushy, snowy, or icy roads, and 15% during sleet or snowfall.
As winter driving statistics confirm, more than 1,300 people die every year, and almost 117,000 are injured in car crashes on slushy, snowy, or icy pavements.