The winter season presents new challenges on the road.
As the temperature drops, icy roads make it tricky to maneuver around corners or gauge stopping distance. Heavy snow and fog may also significantly reduce driver visibility.
During these conditions, it helps to know which locations and road are particularly dangerous in winter and should be avoided.
Here is a list of top 10 most dangerous roads that you should try to avoid during the winter season.
Most accident-prone roads in the U.S.
Between 2013 and 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation conducted a study that identified the roads with the most number of accidents.
1. Interstate 10 Alabama
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, only 3.3 percent of all road accidents that year involved trucks. Still, the Interstate 10 or I-10 in Alabama, which connects to the southernmost interstate highway in the U.S., is ranked by the USDOT as one of the most dangerous roads for truckers.
A considerable percentage of truck-related accidents—12.4 percent—was due to improper lane changes.
2. Interstate 95 Florida
Florida’s Interstate 95 or I-95 is regarded as the second most dangerous road in the U.S., and data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration supports this claim.
This report indicates that I-10 Alabama and I-95 Florida are the only roads that average over 200 fatalities per year. It also reveals that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the worst days for accidents on these roads.
3. Idaho State Highway 75
Highway 75 in Idaho, which is a route that begins from the U.S. Route 93, is rated by USDOT as the third most dangerous road in the country.
Idaho collectively has a high fatality rate of 42.6 percent for accidents that involve commercial motor vehicles. Its location and varying elevations, however, make HWY 75 particularly dangerous during the winter, particularly within rural roadways where 54.3 percent of all fatal accidents take place.
4. Interstate 40 Arkansas
Drivers who reside in Arkansas probably saw this coming.
According to the executive director of the Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Park Estes, around 80 percent of the roads in this southern state are in “less-than-good” conditions.
“We’ve got about 33 percent that are in poor condition right now,”says Estes.
5. US-1 Florida
Apart from the USDOT study, other sources state that the US-1, which stretches through Central Florida, is one of the most dangerous roads in the country.
Data from Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System reveals that a total of 39,023 commercial vehicles have been involved in crashes as of November 2018.
Although Florida tends to stay relatively warm throughout the winter season, you still need to be careful. When passing through US-1, driver fatigue is a major contributor to the highway’s high crash rate.
6. M-20 Michigan
The M-20 in Michigan is a state trunkline stretching between US-31 and US-10.
A specific concern among motorists is the frequency of deer-vehicle collisions, which may occur all year round. The poor visibility and reduced road traction during the winter season can increase the risk of these accidents.
7. Interstate 80 Nebraska
In May 2018, Nebraska’s Interstate 80 saw multiple fatal crashes that involved semi-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles.
The length of the highway, which may cause driver fatigue and loss of focus among truckers, is only part of the equation. Investigators believe that some drivers were texting during these incidents.
8. Colorado State Highway 5
Although Colorado State Highway 5 or CO-5 isn’t too long, there are frequent accidents caused by multiple reasons.
CO-5 passes through the Mount Evans Wilderness, which has steep, narrow, and winding roads at the summit. The fact that CO-5 does not pass through any well-lit town or community makes it difficult to spot black ice.
Colorado police and safety advocates are likewise concerned about the increase in road crashes related to marijuana use ever since its legalization.
9. Interstate 70 Maryland
Interstate 70 in Maryland runs from the Pennsylvania line to a park-and-ride lot in Baltimore. For truckers, I-70 hazards include wrong-way driving, the insufficiency of modernized road signs, and speeding vehicles.
10. South Carolina Highway 35
SC-35 is the shortest highway on this list, but that doesn’t make it any safer.
South Carolina has the nation’s fourth largest state-maintained road system, which may be part of the reason why the state historically had high fatality rates from traffic accidents. SC-35 is no exception as it’s the one specifically cited in the USDOT study as particularly dangerous.
3 Ways to prepare your fleet for safety this winter
You can try to avoid these roads altogether, but that’s not always an option. The best way, therefore, is to make sure your fleet is fully prepared for the harsh winter season.
Here are a few tips that may help:
1. Install dash cams
By installing road-facing dash cams, you can see driving events unfold from the driver’s perspective. Videos can be used to pinpoint what went wrong and how drivers can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
In case of an accident, dash cam videos can be used as evidence to exonerate drivers if they were not at fault.
Statistics show that passenger drivers are at fault for 85 percent of all crashes that involve trucks. Unfortunately, it’s not common for truck drivers to get the blame whenever road accidents occur.
Another study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concludes that video-based technologies can prevent 63,000 truck crashes. This equates to an annual savings of 5.73 billion in the industry.
2. Prioritize driver training
Make sure that drivers understand the unique challenges that they face during winters. Driver training programs should be initiated with a special focus on the winter season.
If you are a KeepTruckin ELD Plus user, you can minimize poor driving practices with the KeepTruckin Driver Scorecards feature. It allows you to monitor problematic drivers by tracking unsafe habits such as speeding, harsh braking, harsh acceleration, and hard cornering.
3. Invest in vehicle maintenance
USDOT data also reveals that more than half of truck accidents involved at least one vehicular defect. With proper vehicle maintenance, you can ensure that vehicles are in perfect conditions and reduce the likelihood of road accidents. Click here to learn more about the USDOT study.
For more information, check out the KeepTruckin Smart Dashcam.
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