Driving in Winter
By: Kathleen Redebaugh and Mikel Silverman
You hit the brakes and the car doesn’t stop. It skids across the ice as you pump the brakes, but this is beyond the control of you or even the car. The danger of driving in the winter continues to be a dangerous activity, especially to teenagers who have not had enough experience driving to know how to do it safely.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, there are over five million car accidents every year. From these five million, approximately thirty thousand people are killed every year. More than eleven percent of fatal car accidents are not caused by texting, or drunk driving, or distracted driving, but merely by bad weather.
Senior Amanda Meso was in a car accident on Telegraph road while it was snowing.
“I felt the impact when we were stopped at a red light,” Meso said. “The car behind me couldn’t stop and hit our parked car while going over fifty miles per hour.”
Meso was transported the from the scene of the accident to the hospital. She left the hospital with minor injuries, but many others are not quite as lucky.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, teenagers are more likely than adults to drive recklessly, especially with one or more other teen passengers in the car. Teens often underestimate dangerous situations, such as unsafe weather. Adults who have been driving much longer and have more experience may be less likely to get in a car accident.
Driving in the winter doesn’t have to be completely avoided, but it should be handled very cautiously. While operating a motor vehicle, students should always be cautious. While the weather is extremely bad, driving should be monitored and attempts to stay off the roads should be made.
Many students think they are safe to drive recklessly if they have a car that’s known for being good in the winter weather, but this isn’t the case. No matter what car is being driven, there is always a risk.
Last winter, while speeding down my street, my car slid on ice and spun off the road. I used to not be worried about winter driving, because I drive a Jeep Liberty with four-wheel drive. Though it does help, four-wheel drive doesn’t guarantee a safe trip while on the roads in dangerous weather conditions.
What a lot of students need to be aware of is the drive to school. Many may accidently speed while on their way to school, and there’s been numerous times that I’ve almost gotten in accidents while rushing to get to class on time. This is a dangerous time because not only are you rushing on the roads, but so are many other inexperienced drivers.
“I turned off all of the electronics in the car, it was very snowy, very icy. I was purposely drifting the car sideways, every corner I was purposely accelerate to throw the car sideways. The car has an emergency system and it knows when it’s in trouble. The car automatically turned its systems back on (traction control, ABS) and the car freaked out and I lost complete control of the car” said senior Brent Oliver, who works at GM, designing cars.
“I learned not to push my limits. No matter how good of a driver you think you are, you never know what the conditions will bring. Now I do.”
Students need to be more cautious of their driving in general, but especially in the months from December to February, while the roads have ice and snow and the danger is amplified.