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Four winter driving tips for Washington motorists

Taking certain precautions when traveling during the winter may help drivers in Washington avoid some weather condition-related wrecks.

As the temperatures drop, drivers throughout Washington may face dangerous road conditions, including rain, sleet, snow and ice. This may contribute to the occurrence of motor vehicle accidents that result in serious personal injury or death for those involved. In fact, the Washington State Department of Transportation reports that there were 33,459 collisions on wet, icy, and snow- or slush-covered roads across the state in 2015 alone. Although not all weather-related crashes are avoidable, there are things people can do to help improve their safety when driving during the winter months.

Drive slow

Stopping, accelerating, turning and other driving actions take longer on snow-covered roads than they do in dry conditions. Further, the slick roads may make it difficult for tires to gain traction, potentially contributing to skids that may result in serious auto collisions. Therefore, it is suggested that drivers slow down when traveling on snowy, wet or potentially icy roads to allow themselves time to safely maneuver their vehicles.

Increase following distances

In optimal conditions, tailgating is a dangerous practice. Due to the increased stopping distances that are required, however, following too closely may be particularly hazardous on wet, ice-covered and snow-covered roads. It is generally recommended that motorists allow a following distance of at least four seconds. When driving in winter conditions, people are advised to increase that distance to 10 seconds.

Check the tires

When driving on snowy, icy and wet roads, having tire traction plays an essential role in helping motorists maintain control of their vehicles. Before traveling short or long distances during the winter months, people should check to see that their tires are adequately inflated and have plenty of tread. Drivers should make certain their vehicles are equipped with traction tires or approved alternatives.

Stock vehicles for survival

Heavy snow falls in a short amount of time, avalanche control work, blocking vehicles and other factors may lead to road and pass closures across the state in the winter. To help ensure they are their passengers are prepared to wait out the weather, it is helpful for people to stock their cars with survival supplies and other winter driving-related items. This may include the following:

· Ice scraper, broom, and snow shovel and brush

· Jumper cables

· Flashlight, flares and emergency markers

· Cell phone charger

· Warm clothing, boots and gloves, and blankets

· Tire chains

Drivers should also keep a first aid kit, water and snacks in their vehicles for the event they are stopped or stuck for an extended period.

Working with an attorney

Winter weather-related accidents may result in serious injuries, for which people may require extensive medical treatment. Among other damages, such collisions may lead to lost wages and unexpected medical bills. Under some circumstances, however, the other drivers may be held financially liable. Thus, those who have suffered injuries in crashes involving winter conditions may benefit from seeking legal counsel. A lawyer may explain their rights and help them understand their options for pursuing compensation.