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Winter driving: the risks, and how to avoid them

According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are more than 5.7 million accidents on the road each year, and over 1.3 million of them are weather-related. Winter being the most dangerous season of all, drivers in Oklahoma should make sure that they're prepared every time it rolls around.

Sometimes, it's not the snows or the flooding that pose the biggest threat, but ice and black ice. Roads freeze over and do not thaw even after freezing temperatures are past; they can make braking and steering difficult for drivers and cause wipe-outs. Black ice, which forms at night or early in the morning, is hard to see because of its wet appearance.

To avoid car accidents, drivers should winterize their vehicles. Many components are affected by the cold; for instance, tires deflate, antifreeze and oil can freeze, and even the gas lines freeze, especially when the tank isn't full. Drivers should make sure that the heater, defroster, brakes, exhaust system, and wiper blades are all functional, and they should stock their car with an emergency kit and perhaps a snow brush or ice scraper.

Drivers must also maintain moderate speeds and plenty of distance from the cars in front of them, as snowy and icy roads will increase braking distance. Also, they should plan their trip carefully, giving themselves more time to reach their destination.

Even when something unexpected happens, drivers must keep their cars under control; they could be held liable for any car accidents that they cause through negligence. Victims of such accidents should speak with a lawyer about filing an injury claim against the drivers who cause them, as they may be compensated for vehicle damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other things. If the other party was driving recklessly, the victim could even sue for punitive damages.

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