Speed Kills…Especially in the Winter

Speed_Kills_by_alyasameenBy Craig Majka

Emergency Services Insurance Program

While teaching my daughter to drive, I racked my brain to think of all the different things she would need to be aware of safe driving. Not wanting to overwhelm a new driver with a hundred rules, I narrowed them down to 4 things that she could always apply. Those rules became:

1. Don’t hit anyone

2. Don’t let anyone hit you

3. Reduce speed for conditions

4. Don’t Tailgate

We laughed about it, but when you boil it down, successful driving is getting to where you need to go safely. The focus of this article is to highlight rule number 3,

“Reduce speed for conditions”.

No matter how carefully we drive, sometimes accidents happen because there are factors beyond our influence. However, we should always do what is in the scope of our control to try and mini-mize the chances of being in an accident.

After many years of investigating and handling vehicle accident claims, my observation is that speed is often a contributing factor in an accident. Not necessarily “speeding”, but speed that is too much for the conditions at hand. Think about it. Especially during hazardous winter conditions, you could be traveling too fast even if you are only going 20 or 25 miles per hour in a posted 30 mph zone, if the conditions are dangerous.

So what are some conditions that would warrant reducing speed?

 congested areas

 rain

 sleet

 intersections

 snow

 high traffic volume times such as rush hour

 icy roadway

 unfamiliar area

 intersections with poorly marked signs

 hills or rises in the roadway

 rural roads with low or no shoulder

 curves

 residential areas

 darkness

 fog

 pedestrian traffic

 driver fatigue

 oversized vehicle

Priority number one is getting to your destination safe and sound. That has to be more important than attempting to get to your destination as quickly as possible and adding unacceptable risk even during emergency operations. Remember getting there is more important than getting there fast.

There are many reasons to reduce speed any time of year but especially in the unique conditions of winter driving, please use an abundance of caution and reduce your speed for the conditions around you.

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