How to Stay Safe in Nevada in Snowy Conditions

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While snow can be a fun and exciting event for many, driving in it can be scary and dangerous. While many Nevadans are accustomed to these road conditions, it is still important to familiarize oneself with precautions while operating a motor vehicle.

Snow Accidents and Precautions

Every year almost twenty-five percent of weather-related motor vehicle accidents happen on snowy or icy roads, and fifteen percent occur during snowfall or sleet. In addition, over 1,300 people are killed, and more than 116,800 people are injured in these weather conditions annually [1].

What makes driving in the snow particularly dangerous is the presence of black ice. Black ice is transparent, therefore bleeding into the pavement and making it invisible to the human eye. In addition, snow or slush can cover this ice, further decreasing the chance of seeing it. Following simple precautions can reduce the chance of a collision; to begin, if you know you are going to travel in snowy weather, it is a good idea to have the following in the car:

  • Jumper cables
  • Blankets
  • Ice scraper
  • Kitty litter/sand
  • A cellphone
  • Antifreeze
  • Snow Shovel or broom
  • Flashlight
  • Chains if not equipped with snow tires.

The blanket is useful in case of stranding or if the heater in the car stops working. The snow shovel and broom can be used to get rid of snow around a car if it gets stuck. The Kitty Litter can also help get your car out of a rut and can provide your car wheels further traction. Just spread a little around each tire and slowly try to drive your car out of the hazard.

In addition, it is important to do the following:

  • Clear your windshield and wipers of excess snow prior to driving.
  • If going on a longer winter drive, check your brakes, battery, lights, tires, and seatbelts.
  • In addition, consider keeping a spare tire in case of a flat tire. Receiving roadside assistance during snowy weather may take more time than usual.
  • Ensure the exhaust pipe is clear of all snow. A blocked tailpipe can cause carbon monoxide to circle back into the car, which can be toxic.
  • When placing your child into a car seat, put their jacket on after buckling their seatbelt. It is vital that the seatbelt stay snug around the child, otherwise it can cause ejection if in a collision. [2]

When driving, it is important to drive slowly. This allows you more control of the motor vehicle and allows more time to react when needed. In addition, when braking, do not brake quickly or suddenly, as this can cause the car to spin. Instead, try and pulse the brake until you can slow to a stop. This technique also requires you to give yourself enough room to do so. If you come across a snowplow and must share the road, remember to keep your distance. As we detailed in a blog post in 2019, snow plow accidents happen and can have devastating consequences. These trucks make wide turns, stop often, and exit the road frequently, however, the road behind an active snowplow is safer to drive on. If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay behind it or use caution while passing.

Lastly, if your car malfunctions and stops working, run out of gas or get permanently stuck during a winter road trip, make sure you stay in the car and save your energy. Do not run the car for a long time as it can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, try keeping the windows up and using the blanket or jacket to keep warm. If you feel very cold, run the engine periodically and ensure to clean the tailpipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. [3]

Traffic Jams During the Holiday Weekend

While Nevadans are always on the lookout for snow, President’s Day weekend was surprisingly pleasant, with much warmer weather than the past few weeks. However, many Southern Nevadans were faced with another problem-traffic congestion. It was reported that there was a back-up of cars on Interstate 15 heading towards Southern California on both Sunday and Monday. [4] The back-up reached approximately 10 miles and caused delays for many travelers. The Regional Transportation Commission attributed this back-up to an increase in vehicles traveling to Las Vegas as well as the freeway reducing from three lanes to two as it approaches the state line.

While driving in both snow or heavy traffic can be frustrating, it is important that Nevadans approach both with patience and caution. Taking small precautions and driving slowly can help reduce the chance of collision and reduce motor vehicle related fatalities. So, let’s all do our part and help keep Nevada roads safe.

[1] https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/weather_events/snow_ice.htm

[2] https://www.thezebra.com/resources/research/winter-driving-statistics/

[3] https://www.nhtsa.gov/winter-driving-tips

[4] https://news3lv.com/news/local/holiday-traffic-hits-southbound-i-15-leaving-las-vegas-on-presidents-day

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