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The Worst Places to Drive in the Winter

Winter-Header

Traffic accidents can happen under any condition, but winter driving is a whole different ballgame. Depending on where you live, winter driving accidents are a likely hazard.

Where are the worst places to drive during the winter? Which states have the greatest number of fatal car accidents? Does age play a factor? And when is it the worst time and day to be out on the icy roads? Keep reading to find out.

Wintry Fatal Car Accidents, by the Numbers

Winter-Accidents

In 2015, Ohio had the most winter driving accidents. Specifically, 143 fatal traffic accidents occurred during snowy or icy conditions in the winter months. This was followed by Michigan, which had 136 fatal car accidents, Pennsylvania (79), and New York (62).

As northern states, snow is not unusual. In fact, Cleveland, Ohio, nets around 56 inches of snow every year, while Columbus experiences 28 inches, and Cincinnati gets around 24 inches.

Further, the fifth most common state for fatal vehicle accidents is Texas (60). Texas does not regularly experience snow – averaging maybe one inch in a year – but when snow or icy conditions crop up, it can be a massive disaster. It may be that folks in the Lone Star State aren't accustomed to driving in wintry conditions, or they may not have the proper car equipment to allow them to drive safely on dangerous roads.

Out-of-State Wintry Vehicle Fatalities

Winter-Out-of-State

When we look at the states with the greatest number of fatal car accidents during winter, it's easy to see that while locals typically make up the bulk of wintertime accidents, out-of-towners are involved in these types of accidents as well. Thirty-eight of Ohio's 143 fatal wrecks involved people from out of state – more than 25 percent of all fatal accidents. Pennsylvania had the same ratio as well, and Michigan had a similar percentage of out-of-state fatalities. Additionally, of the 29 fatal accidents that occurred in New Mexico in the winter of 2015, 28 involved people from other states.

The rate of fatal accidents in New York involving locals was around 85 percent. However, the accident rate in Texas was slightly different. Seventy-five percent of wintry driving accidents involved locals, while 25 percent involved people from out of state.

Age and Wintry Fatal Car Accidents

Winter-Age

Young drivers don't always have the experience necessary to successfully deal with changing weather conditions, which makes wintry weather driving a challenge. However, the CDC reports that fatal crash rates increase around the age of 70 and notes that fatalities are more common due to the drivers' existing medical conditions and their increased susceptibility to injury, rather than an increased risk of crash involvement.

We checked the ages of drivers as it related to the rate of fatal car accidents in winter. Notably, fatal wintry car accidents in Michigan typically involved people between the ages of 45 and 64. In Ohio, though, the largest age group involved in fatal accidents was those aged 16 to 24. New York was nearly even across all age groups – with four to six accidents per age range – while Texas residents aged 25 to 44 had more accidents.

Origin of Out-of-State Fatal Accidents

Winter-Ohio

Ohio is first on the list of states with the most out-of-state drivers; most of those involved in wintry fatal car accidents came from the neighboring state of Indiana – 16 out of 38 vehicle fatalities involved people from this state. Additionally, four accidents each involved people from Pennsylvania and Tennessee, while three were from New York and two each were from Arizona, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. Here are some of the other leading states:

Winter-Michigan

In Michigan, where out-of-state drivers were involved in 30 accidents, Illinois was home to 10 of those drivers. Indiana made up five, and Ohio was home to three.

Winter-New-Mexico

Nearly all of the wintry fatal car accidents in New Mexico in 2015 were traced to out-of-state drivers. Eleven drivers hailed from Texas, while five came from Arizona and four from California.

Winter-Pennsylvania

Of Pennsylvania's 21 out-of-state fatal accidents, seven drivers were from Michigan, and three were from Wisconsin.

Winter-New-Jersey

New Jersey, with wintry fatal driving accidents happening almost as often to out-of-state drivers as to in-state drivers, shows that six came from New York while five were from Maryland.

Fatal Wintry Car Accidents and Time of Day

Winter-Time

The most common time for wintry fatal car accidents was around 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The next most accidents occurred between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The least common time for fatal wintry accidents was between 11 p.m. and midnight.

Fatal Wintry Car Accidents and Day of the Week

Winter-Day

It also appears that certain days of the week experience more fatal car accidents during the winter than others. Saturday, by far, is the most common day to get into a devastating accident, with 286 accidents taking place on this day of the week, while Friday had 197 accidents. Weekend travel (particularly around winter holidays) may help account for this uptick in fatal accidents, as many people often prefer to drive more on their days off.

Thursday experienced the lowest number of wintry fatal car accidents (73).

What's on the Road?

Winter-Surface-Conditions

Some wintry weather conditions are more stressful to drive through than others. It turns out, snow was the most dangerous weather condition and caused 523 fatal car accidents. Ice or frost accounted for 370 accidents, while wet roads were involved in 82 accidents.

Most Common Accident Types

Winter-Accident-Types

Based on the data, most fatal car accidents in the winter involved drivers losing control or traction (259). Driving off the road (83) was the second most common type of accident, followed by pedestrian/animal accidents (66) and hitting a parked vehicle (14).

Winter-Situation

Finally, the worst winter drive in the country is in Ohio at 2 p.m. on a Saturday with snow on the road and in the air.

Conclusion

Winter weather can be tricky for drivers, and worsening conditions can be deadly. While not everyone who drives in Ohio at 2 p.m. on a Saturday is going to be involved in a dangerous accident, it's vital to be aware of changing conditions and plan your route accordingly.

Methodology

Accident information was gathered via the Fatality Analysis Reporting System from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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