Missouri is among the busiest states when it comes to local drives and highway traffic. If you live here or visit the state often, you will probably know what we are talking about. In a recent survey, Missouri has been ranked as one of the worst states to drive.
Additionally, data from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) shows an increase in traffic congestion across its Interstate Highway System. The amount of vehicle travel here is far greater than its capacity.
Road safety becomes a bigger concern in winter when the weather brings another set of challenges for drivers. However, being a little more aware and cautious is enough to enjoy your winter rides without worrying about mishaps. You can focus on the picturesque landscapes and enjoy the snowy views when you know the potential risks and have a plan to address them.
We will highlight the potential road hazards in Missouri during winter that call for extra caution when you are behind the wheel.
Unpredictable Weather Patterns
Winter in Missouri can be unpredictable, with rapid changes in temperature and unexpected snowstorms. After the devastating winter storm of early 2024, the state is braced up for this year’s challenges too. When the weather becomes inclement, the hazards on the roads increase significantly. Traffic jams, accidents, and breakdowns are the most common ones.
You cannot do much about the weather, but staying informed about forecasts keeps you ready for changing road conditions. You can check road condition updates, plan routes in advance, and carry emergency supplies to be on the safe side. Alternatively, avoid non-essential drives when forecasts do not look great.
High-Volume Truck Traffic
Missouri’s highways are well-known for their high-volume truck traffic throughout the year. Larger vehicles spell a bigger risk of accidents on highways. Cities are no different in this context. In July this year, a multi-vehicle crash claimed one life in St. Louis. The accident involved two cars and one small truck.
Winter driving becomes even more dangerous for trucks because it is easy to lose control over wet surfaces. Being aware of your rights is crucial because personal injury law entitles you to compensation in the event of a negligent accident. A truck accident attorney in St. Louis can be a savior for victims sustaining injuries due to a trucker’s negligence.
Trucking accidents are more complicated than car crashes because they involve multiple parties, such as the driver and trucking company. A seasoned attorney can help victims maximize their claims by establishing liability and calculating a value covering all damages.
St. Louis ranks as the worst city for traffic congestion in Missouri. According to recent data, it also ranks 91st among 280 American cities considered for traffic woes. Drivers here spent an average of 17 hours stuck in traffic in 2022. Winter worsens the situation as vehicles move at a slower pace due to ice accumulation on the roads.
Drivers across the state experience difficulties navigating the busy roads throughout the year. You can counter this problem by rethinking your commuting schedules to avoid rush hours. Take safe detours where possible. Also, check Google Maps to understand the traffic situation on your route before hitting the road.
Icy Bridges and Overpasses
Missouri winters often lead to hazardous icy conditions, especially on bridges and overpasses. Unlike regular roads, these elevated structures freeze faster and remain icy longer due to cold air circulating above and below the road surface. This makes them particularly dangerous, as ice on bridges is often invisible, leading to unexpected skidding. To navigate these areas safely, reduce your speed and avoid sudden steering maneuvers or braking, which can cause loss of vehicle control.
Reduced Traction on Roads
Winter conditions significantly reduce traction, making driving in Missouri challenging. Snow and ice create slippery surfaces, leading to skidding and difficulty in stopping, particularly on hilly or winding roads. It’s crucial to equip your vehicle with winter tires that provide better grip and to maintain a greater following distance from other vehicles. When encountering icy patches, it’s advisable to decelerate slowly by lifting your foot off the accelerator, rather than using the brakes abruptly.
Navigating Around Snowplows
Snowplows and salt trucks play a vital role in road safety during winter. They clear snow and spread salt to melt ice, but they also have limited visibility and can unexpectedly create icy patches or snowdrifts. Drivers should maintain a safe distance from these vehicles. Avoid overtaking a snowplow as the road ahead may be worse than the road behind it. Remember, if you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you.
Planning for Increased Travel Time
Winter weather inevitably leads to longer commute times. Snow, ice, and reduced visibility mean traffic moves slower, and road closures are more common. Planning for additional travel time is essential. Check the weather forecast and road conditions before leaving and allow extra time to reach your destination. This preparation helps avoid the need to rush, reducing the risk of accidents.
According to US Department of Transportation (DOT) statistics, over 38,700 vehicle crashes on the US roads occur in fog. These mishaps claim more than 600 lives and leave more than 16,300 people annually. Winter storms are another reason causing reduced visibility on Missouri roads and highways.
Drivers often struggle to see the road ahead amid snowfall and blowing winds. They cannot see road signs, obstacles, and other vehicles ahead and in the rearview mirrors.
The best way to limit the low-visibility challenges is to practice defensive driving. Adjust the vehicle speed, use headlights, and stay focused. You may consider taking a break when visibility is dangerously low. Always carry blankets, food, and hot drinks as they can be your saviors when you need to halt in the middle of nowhere.
In conclusion, navigating Missouri’s busy roads and highways during winter demands care and caution from drivers. You should know the unique challenges and create a strategy to overcome them. While some factors like inclement weather and low visibility are not under your control, you can do your bit by taking a few precautions.
Most importantly, watch out for negligent car and truck drivers because the last thing you want is to be hit due to someone else’s mistake. Maintain a safe distance and practice defensive driving to minimize your risk.