Because inclement weather can cause icy and slippery roads, wintertime car accidents continue to be alarmingly common in North Carolina and across the country. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly 25% of all motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. happen on icy, slushy or snowy roads.
If you wreck your car, truck or SUV, your first instinct might be to exit the vehicle. This makes sense, as you need to look at the damage, check on the other driver and exchange insurance information. Still, getting out of your car can be a deadly mistake.
It is not uncommon for icy roadways to cause or contribute to multi-vehicle pileups. Therefore, you can expect accidents to continue to occur after yours does, as approaching drivers may not be able to stop their vehicles or maneuver around your wreckage.
Even though your car might have sustained considerable damage in the accident, it still probably gives you the most protection possible from other vehicles. Remember, passenger cars can weigh upwards of 6,000 pounds, and tractor-trailers might tip the scales at 80,000 pounds. Your car’s steel frame can keep you safe if a car or truck hits it.
In extremely cold conditions, hypothermia can kill a person in under an hour. You can develop frostbite even sooner than that, however. Consequently, before leaving your vehicle, you should carefully consider your risk of freezing. If you and your vehicle are in imminent danger, though, you might have little choice but to exit your vehicle.
If leaving your car behind is your only option, you should try to get at least 50 feet away from the road. Ultimately, putting as much distance as possible between yourself and approaching vehicles can keep them from colliding with you.