Our View: Be mindful of weather while driving

Published 1:10 pm Thursday, January 19, 2017

Kentucky hasn’t had much of a winter. With the exception of a couple inches of snow that hit Clark County earlier this month and a few bouts of frigid temperatures, it has been a relatively mild season.

However, as temperatures hover above normal, precipitation that would have been snow is now rain.

With any bad weather, but especially rain and snow conditions, driving becomes more dangerous.

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In the last couple of weeks, several accidents have been reported with weather and high speeds as potential causes. One of those accidents proved fatal.

While some accidents are simply unavoidable in bad weather, others can easily be prevented. When it comes to driving in less than ideal conditions, certain precautions should be taken to avoid accidents:

— Keep headlights on and use windshield wipers if necessary.

— Increase following distance to allow more room to stop abruptly or if your vehicle skids when stopping.

— Because it takes longer to brake on slippery roads, reduce your speed.

— Avoid frequent lane changes, and only pass or switch lanes if necessary.

— Keep both hands on the wheel.

— Watch the conditions around you carefully and be prepared to respond to other drivers who may lose control of their vehicles.

— If your vehicle begins to slide or spin, do not slam on your brakes. Steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go, remain calm and try to maintain control.

— Never use cruise control in wet or slippery conditions.

Weather-related accidents accounted for about 21 percent of all automobile accidents, 18.5 percent of injuries and 15.6 of fatalities annually between 2010 and 2014, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Nationwide, an average of 1,179,253 police-reported crashes, 425,103 injuries, and 5,137 deaths occurred in adverse weather and/or roadway surface conditions annually during the study period.

AAA argues that given the large number and proportion of crashes, injuries, and deaths that occur in adverse weather conditions, more effort is needed to educate motorists regarding safe driving practices in inclement weather, and we agree.

The safest defense against weather-related accidents to avoid driving in adverse conditions, but if you must, drive according to the conditions.

You could avoid costly and potentially fatal accidents.