Shorter days and icy roads make driving this time of year more dangerous. There are many myths surrounding winter driving safety. See if you can distinguish fact from fiction.
It is not likely that I will ever be involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Unfortunately, according to the AAA foundation for traffic safety, more than one in five drivers report having been involved in a crash which resulted in at least one person requiring hospital care. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports 6,400 U.S. citizens are injured every day in a crash. In fact, motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for people ages 5 through 34.
Winter conditions increase the risk of a fatal crash 3.6 times more than any other weather hazards.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this is true. Icy and snowy roads are more dangerous than all other types of weather conditions combined.
Rural roads are more dangerous than urban roads.
More crashes occur on city streets, but a higher number of fatal crashes happen on rural roads. According to the CDC, only 19 percent of U.S. residents live in rural areas like Boundary County. However, over half (57 percent) of the vehicle-related deaths occurred in these regions. If you are traveling in a rural area, you are 2.6 times more likely to die than if your crash happened in an urban setting.
Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet.
This gives less time to react. Breaking times on ice can be 10 times greater than on dry roads. The combination of these factors increases the risk. Slow down. Accelerate and decelerate gently.
Seat belts really don’t make that much difference in saving lives.
Seat belts are effective. Recent data from NHTSA showed that seat belts reduce the rate of death in motor vehicle crashes by 45 to 60 percent. In 2016, seat belts saved almost 15,000 lives.
Child car seats and booster seats do a good job of protecting children.
According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children. Buckling children in correctly sized car seats, booster seats and seat belts cuts serious and fatal injuries by more than half.
Almost everyone in North Idaho wears their seat belt.
Analysis of data from telephone surveys by the CDC from 2002-2012 showed only 60 to 80 percent of motor vehicle occupants in Boundary County report wearing a seat belt on every trip.
It is winter in North Idaho. Slow down and remember to buckle up every drive, no matter how short. It might save your life or the lives of those you love. Be safe out there!
Boundary Community Hospital and Bonner General Health have been designated as Level IV Trauma Centers by the State of Idaho Time Sensitive Emergency Program.