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Surprise snowstorm causes many car accidents across Maryland

The recent early blizzard to hit the east coast should remind all drivers that it is never too early to think about winter driving safety. Drivers unprepared for winter conditions could easily find themselves in car accidents. At the least, it means slowing down.

One Maryland accident in particular emphasizes the point. A Hyundai Sonata traveling too fast for the conditions left a road. The 72-year-old driver was thrown from his vehicle. At last notice, he was recovering from injuries in the hospital.

Other accidents around Maryland resulted in multiple injuries and numerous car pile-ups. This left various parts of Interstate 70 shut down for hours. All of these shutdowns created worse driving bottlenecks and higher risks of accidents in other places.

This early storm caused so many problems because it was wetter than most storms. Snow caked trees brought down power lines. The slushy, rather than icy, conditions of roads may have given some drivers a false sense of security.

Even normally wet roads create a great risk of hydroplaning when speeds exceed safety for the conditions. When temperatures approach freezing, but do not quite freeze, it makes it like driving on thick water. Wheels mount up on accumulated slush at even slower speeds than normal hydroplaning. Cars lose traction and drivers lose control of their vehicles. These preventable accidents happen because drivers do not adapt to harsh conditions.

When drivers unprepared for such conditions cause accidents, they are responsible for expenses related to them. Winter car crashes are just as preventable as accidents any other time of the year. They often happen because drivers fail to take cautions the hazards demand.

Source: WBAL, "'Snowtober' Leaves Behind Slick Roads, Frazzled Nerves," Oct. 30, 2011

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