Fall in North Dakota means high school football, cocoa, cold weather, and icy roads. Leading into winter, the weather will only get much, much worse when it comes to road travel. Some areas of North Dakota become virtually impassable, and the danger can mean the difference between life or death. State residents are used to winter weather and how to handle dire road conditions, but those from other regions may not be properly equipped.
There are many out-of-state drivers who have reason to pass through North Dakota regularly. Anyone visiting family during the holidays, who has business running along the northern region, who attends college in the state, or is a military member visiting a northern military installation, is at risk for being in a car accident. According to Times Record News, a recent study shows that in 2018, North Dakota ranked first in the country for having the most auto accident claims from out-of-state drivers.
Winter weather road hazards
Avoiding typical holiday travel hazards should become standard behavior. North Dakota is third in the nation for being the most dangerous for drivers. Don’t drive after eating heavy meals that make you tired. Don’t overextend yourself with multiple homes to visit that are far distances apart, or driving in the evening when roads are most dangerous. Winter adds its own special flair for danger so give yourself a fighting chance when encountering:
- Blizzards accumulating deep snow
- Almost zero visibility due to blowing snow
- Strong wind that causes high snow drifts
- Windchill temperatures dipping substantially below zero
- Freezing fog, rain, or drizzle causing icy roads and windshields
- Black ice, which is an invisible sheet of ice over the road
Expect the best but prepare for the worst
You may not be a regular winter enthusiast, but if you intend to travel through North Dakota between mid-September and late March, you need to take safety measures. It sounds dramatic, but the worst-case scenario is finding yourself stranded or in a car accident and having no cell service in the middle of a winter storm. Even worse, first responders can’t get to you because the weather makes it too dangerous for them to come find you. If that happens, you won’t last long without proper planning.
Pack like you’re walking across a tundra. If you have to abandon your car to seek help or you’re stranded in your car, you need more than jeans and a sweatshirt.
- Insulated and waterproof winter coat, ski pants, gloves/mittens, and hat
- Thermal underclothes
- Wool, polypropylene, or polyester athletic socks
- Snow boots with a low heel and sole for good traction on ice or snow
Create an emergency kit. Whether you’re just stranded without incident, or you’ve been in an accident and are injured, spending hours in a car waiting for help means you need to be prepared to fend for yourself for a while.
- Lip balm, face/skin sunscreen to combat wind and sun reflection off the snow
- Any medications you take
- Emergency cell phone charger
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- A thermal blanket
- Bottled water and energy bars
- A first aid kit
Winterizing your car may actually prevent an accident. If your car stalls on the road in winter weather, you could be creating a hazard for yourself and other drivers who may not be able to avoid hitting you. Make sure your vehicle has:
- Snow tires and chains for traction
- A snow shovel
- Salt bags in the trunk for added weight or in case you get stuck
- Ice scraper in case you run into freezing rain or fog
- A portable jump starter in case your battery dies
North Dakota winters can pose grave danger for drivers, whether another vehicle is involved in a collision, or not. The Minot car accident attorneys at Larson Law Firm, P.C. want to help ensure the safety of drivers on North Dakota roadways, but accidents happen. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, schedule your free consultation in our Bismarck or Minot office. Call us today at 701-484-4878, or reach out to us through our contact page.