It is dark. It is smooth. It is dangerous. Some people don’t want to go out at all in the dreary winter weather and would rather stay safe at home. But does the cold season really hold so many dangers? How can the risks be prevented in winter? And what does a comparison of the four seasons reveal?
What dangers does winter hold?
The cold season usually brings darkness, snow and ice with it. What belongs to a real winter wonderland for one person cannot be over quickly enough for another. And not without good reason. At home, for example, the water pipes in unheated rooms can freeze and be damaged. Something similar can also happen with water connections in the garden if the supply is not shut off in good time before the cold onset. Snow avalanches falling from roofs are a rarity in our region, but we can encounter them during heavy or prolonged snowfalls at the latest on ski holidays. Apart from that, there is a risk that large icicles that have formed on the gutter will come loose and endanger passers-by.
During leisure time, large areas of ice, e.g. B. for ice skating, a popular destination. But even if these appear stable on the banks and are carrying a person, they can be unstable and collapse a few meters away. Flowing waters and waters with fluctuating water levels are even more unpredictable.
With regard to the means of transport, rail traffic can be impaired in winter due to icing on the overhead lines. On the other hand, the locks on bicycles and cars can freeze up or the battery can underperform. An area of ice can also be hidden under a blanket of snow, which can become a dangerous trap not only for motorists: cyclists and pedestrians on the sidewalk can also accidentally overlook it and slip. This danger can also exist on cleared roads, since the road salt effect can then be impaired.
Most Common Cause of Weather-Related Accidents: Rain Before Snow and Ice
According to accident statistics from the Federal Statistical Office, the proportion of weather-related accidents is significantly higher in winter than in summer. However, there are fewer traffic accidents in winter than in summer. How did this happen?
- Winter: fog. snowfall. hail. Without a doubt, winter road conditions are by far the most unpredictable. But that’s why people are more careful and drive slower. Many people prefer not to drive in the first place before there is a risk of an accident on slippery roads. The low number of bicycles or motorized two-wheelers is one of the reasons why winter is not an accident-prone season. However, it should be noted that the risk of pedestrian accidents increases during the darker months.
- Spring: The days are getting longer and the temperatures are getting hotter. It was still dark in the morning and the road was slippery. Out of habit, you are still cautious in traffic. The further spring goes, the more people will be attracted. People bike to work instead of driving, and many take long trips on weekends. Therefore, as the spring progresses, so does the number of accidents.
- Summer: more and more people are actively involved in road traffic and spend time outdoors. Everyone feels energized – and they do. Because a good mood also increases the willingness to take risks. This is reflected in accident statistics, too: more road fatalities occur in the U.S. during warm summer months than during cold winter months. In addition to direct weather influences, there are so-called biological influences, ie the effects of weather on the human organism, its performance and mental state. In particular, the heat load has a great influence on the occurrence of accidents. According to a study by the Meteorological Institute of the Free University of Berlin,
- Autumn: The days are getting shorter and the weather is getting less comfortable. People are staying at home more, and those who used to cycle in the summer are now increasingly switching to buses and trains or taking cars.
What measures can be taken to prevent accidents in winter?
As beautiful as winter is, it also brings many dangers. Accidents can happen quickly, and the consequences are sometimes painful and long-lasting. Therefore, it is very important to adapt to the changing conditions in winter in time. Here are some tips to protect yourself:
- Properly heat the room and check heating operation regularly
- cover sensitive plants
- Insulate water pipes in areas prone to freezing or draining
- park the car in the garage or cover the windows
- Alert homeowners to large icicles on roof
- Get the latest weather forecast and traffic information when you wake up in the morning
- Wear light-coloured, high-visibility clothing, with reflective surfaces if possible
- wear sturdy non-slip shoes
- Always use the railing when walking on exterior stairs
- Take the shortest route to cross the road, use zebra crossings and traffic lights, and avoid unlit paths
- Check that the bike is roadworthy (e.g. headlights, reflectors, brakes, tread and air pressure)
- For your own safety, use the bike lanes and wear a bike helmet
- Drive carefully, arrange more route time, no time pressure
- Be especially careful on forest and forest roads and bridges as this is where black ice forms fastest
- Only enter officially approved bodies of frozen water with ice thickness of 12 cm or more. The ice rink in your area is still the safest place to skate