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Winter Driving - Do You Need a Refresher?

We are only now starting to see more representative winter weather here in Wisconsin.  We had the bitter cold, but now we are starting to see the snow. A few inches fall every couple days.  With this we are starting to see more motor vehicle crashes.  

As a chiropractor, I am obviously seeing an influx of patients with crash related injuries.  As I am also an auto crash reconstructionist, I’m sure I will also see requests from attorneys for assistance in these crash cases.  The two just go hand-in-hand.  

While we can’t necessarily completely prevent these crash events, there is a short list of things we can do to perhaps make them less likely to occur.  Here’s my short list:  

  • Don’t Go – If the weather is inclement, please decide whether the travel is really necessary.  When we are having a blizzard it’s not uncommon for people to realize that the risk of travel are too great and will stay home.  When less severe, but still treacherous, conditions are present, just decide if the trip is really necessary.  In many cases you might just say, “No, the trip is not needed.”  If you stay home, there is a 0% chance of being in a motor vehicle crash.
  • Slow Down – Consider this . . . when we encounter a roadway issue we, on average, have a two second reaction time.  So the time required to observe, recognize, decide and physically respond to the situation, there is an average of 2 seconds.  Nothing has happened yet to actually change the motion of our vehicle, there is just the activity taking place in our head.  At 55 mph we cover over 160 feet during those two seconds.  At 70 mph we cover about 205 feet.
  • Increase Following Distance – Increasing the distance of travel behind the vehicle in front of you gives you several things.  Greater perspective on the traffic in front of you and in front of the vehicle in front of you.  It gives you more free distance within which to observe, recognize and respond to the situation and, perhaps to then avoid the situation.
  • Avoid Distractions – as was mentioned above, under ideal circumstances our reaction time while driving is in the range of 2 seconds.  There are several factors that will influence reaction time. 
    • Sleep – a recent study by the AAA found that upwards of 10% of motor vehicle crashes are in some way related to the driving being sleepy or sleep deprived.  Have good rest.
    • Age – unfortunately as all of us age our ability to react goes down.  I’m not suggesting older drivers are poor drivers.  Quite the opposite, older drivers are some of the best drivers due to their level of experience, but added time is needed to respond to stimuli.  It is best that drivers of all ages drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions, but also increase their following distance.
    • Distractions – It doesn’t have to be your cell phone.  It could just as well be the occupant in the car or the radio.  These are distractions.  Anything that consumes your mental bandwidth will slow your reaction to other stimuli.  Cell phones are a huge issue.  Turn your phone off or set it to recognize when you are traveling so incoming messages and calls will be silenced until you are able to take them in a safe manner.

With this we also have the issue of friction.  Friction is a relative force of the resistance of two surfaces to move past one another.  The coefficient of friction of rubber on concrete is relatively high.  Reasonably, the coefficient of friction of rubber on snow or ice is relatively low.  Simple reasoning should tell you that with less friction it will take longer (both time and distance) for a rubber object to slow its rate of motion on snow or ice than on dry concrete.    

With slower speed and increased following distance you are able to anticipate events in front of you and have the time to take the necessary actions to avoid many situations.    

If you travel there is nothing that will protect you 100% from motor vehicle crashes.  There are things that will improve your odds of avoiding them.  There are also things that can be done to lessen the chances for injury and lessen the severity of injury.  This is an item for another blog.  

In the event of a motor vehicle crash the most likely nature of injury is orthopedic/musculoskeletal injury.  It is reasonable to consider seeking care from health care providers that are the most highly trained and experienced in the injuries that occur in MVCs.  Sauk Prairie Chiropractic, LLC is indeed just the place.  Dr. Terbilcox is a chiropractor, is trained as a chiropractic orthopedist, is an engineer (worked in the aerospace industry) and an auto crash specialist.  He understands that nature of injuries and is experienced in their care and is able to find the best course of care to help you gain timely relief and recovery.  

Please do not hesitate to call us at Sauk Prairie Chiropractic, LLC.  (608) 643-4285.

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