Winter brings with it many risks. The Argus Leader recently reported that a man is suing for falling in the parking lot of a Sioux City bar, where he clawed across the ice toward safety out of fear of freezing to death before being found.
The lawsuit claims owners of the bar and property should have cleared the lot of ice and snow, which could have prevented the victim from suffering permanent physical injury and disability. The City of Sioux Falls reminds property owners of their duty to remove ice and snow under City Ordinance 96.100.
But we won’t be any safer just because we’ve reached our vehicles. Winter traffic accidents will be a primary threat in Sioux Falls and throughout South Dakota over the coming months.
Avoiding common poor driving behaviors is the first step to staying safe. Distracted driving, speeding, and failure to follow other rules of the road will all increase your risks of a collision when winter weather is added to the mix.
Drivers Should Prepare for Winter Weather
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a number of driving safety tips:
- Have your vehicle properly serviced.
- Pack an emergency kit, including a shovel, blanket, scraper, flashlight, and a coarse material like sand or kitty litter in case you get stuck.
- Review your vehicle’s owner’s manual for safety features like anti-lock brakes and traction control, which may impact how your car handles in ice or snow.
- Properly install absorbent floor mats. Always remove old mats—never stack them—and use proper retaining devices to keep them from interfering with pedals.
- Plan your route, and be mindful of the weather forecast.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full, and always travel with a charged cell phone.
Safe Driving in Ice and Snow
The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) also offers a host of winter weather advice, including driving tips:
- Always clear ice and snow from windows, headlights, and taillights.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination—plan for weather-related delays, and give yourself extra time.
- Drive slowly, and increase your planned stopping distance. Avoid following too closely, and always be prepared to yield the right of way.
- Use slow, deliberate movements when steering, accelerating, or braking.
- Don’t crowd snow plows. The road behind a plow is the safest place to drive; drop back, and don’t follow too closely.
- Avoid common risky driving behaviors, including speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving.
When it comes to monitoring conditions, SDDOT provides a number of resources, including the Call 511 landline (866-697-3511), which provides real time weather updates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Travelers may also download the #SDDOT511 app and visit www.safetravelusa.com for camera views and condition updates.
The state road department advises those stranded to remain with their vehicle and use a mobile phone to call 911. Run the engine sparingly, and keep the exhaust pipe clear of ice and snow. Never go to sleep with the engine running.
Motorists should also listen to state travel advisories and road closures. Advisories include “No Travel Advised,” "Road Impassable,” and “Road Closed” notices. The SDDOT and the highway patrol will coordinate road closures and openings as warranted.
If you have been injured in a winter weather accident, you need to consult with an experienced Sioux Falls auto accident attorney who can further discuss your options.