Winter Woes: How Early Nightfall Affects Accident Rates

As the winter season approaches, so do challenging conditions for drivers. One of the most notable changes during this time of year is early nightfall, with sunsets occurring just before 5 p.m. This loss of light impacts visibility and road safety for Missouri drivers.

Learn how early nightfall affects accident rates in and around St. Louis. And if you’re hurt in a crash in winter weather or low-light conditions, a Missouri car accident attorney at Cofman Townsley can help.

Understanding the Winter Season’s Impact on Accidents

Here’s a closer look at the impact of winter on accidents:

Winter HazardImpact on Road Safety
Reduced daylightDrivers struggle to adjust to lower light levels, which impair the ability to judge distances and recognize hazards.
Darkness at rush hourThe combination of reduced visibility and high traffic volume during the evening rush hour increases the likelihood of collisions.
Weather conditionsSnow, rain, and fog limit visibility further and reduces road traction, making driving more hazardous.
Icy roadsIce also reduces tire grip, increasing the chance of losing control of the vehicle.
Vehicle performanceBatteries may fail or tire pressure can drop, contributing to accidents.

The Statistics

National statistics show that most fatal crashes occur between 4 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. from November through March. This period aligns with the early darkness of winter evenings, highlighting the impact of visibility on road safety.

Nighttime driving dangers are heightened with the addition of rain, snow, and fog, which are typical of winter weather. These conditions severely impair visibility, making it harder for drivers to navigate safely.

Despite only about a quarter of driving occurring at night, half of traffic fatalities happen during these hours.

Tips for Driving Safely on Dark Winter Roads

To navigate the hazards of winter driving and mitigate the risks associated with early nightfall, drivers must adopt safe practices and prioritize vehicle maintenance. Here are a few tips for driving safely on dark winter roads:

  • Use headlights: Ensure that your headlights are in working order and use them, even during twilight. This helps you remain visible to other drivers and improves your visibility on the road.
  • Clean headlights and taillights regularly: Dirt and grime can reduce the effectiveness of your lights. Regular cleaning ensures maximum visibility and helps others see your vehicle.
  • Use fog lights if available: In fog, snow, or heavy rain conditions, fog lights can improve visibility. However, remember to turn them off in clear conditions to avoid visibility issues for other drivers.
  • Keep windows and mirrors clear: Regularly defrost and demist your windows. Keep an ice scraper and de-icing spray in your vehicle to clear ice and snow.
  • Stay vigilant for animals: Winter months often see an increase in wildlife crossings like deer and possums, especially at dusk. Remain vigilant and watch for any sudden motions that might suggest the presence of animals.
  • Reduce speed: Reduce your speed during poor weather and ensure sufficient space between your car and the one ahead, allowing extra time to respond to unforeseen events.
  • Be cautious on slippery roads: Snow and ice can make roads treacherous. Drive at a reduced speed, which allows you to maintain control of your vehicle and brake gently to avoid skidding.
  • Avoid distractions: Distracted driving is always dangerous, but it’s even riskier during winter with reduced visibility. Put away your phone and focus on the road.
  • Maintain your vehicle: Ensure your brakes, tires, lights, fluids, and windshield wipers are in good condition. Install winter tires, inflate them to the proper PSI, and consider winter windshield wipers for optimal performance.
  • Plan ahead: Check weather forecasts before heading out and plan your route accordingly. Consider delaying holiday road trips if hazardous conditions are expected.

Get Legal Help After a Winter Crash

Cofman Townsley advocates for responsible driving and supports those harmed in vehicle accidents. If you or someone you love has been injured in a winter-related crash, we are here to guide you through the legal procedures.

Our experienced auto accident attorneys can review the circumstances of your crash to determine the cause. If another driver’s actions, such as speeding or distracted driving, led to the collision, we can help you seek compensation.

Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.