BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- Despite holiday songs' claims to the contrary, dashing through the snow is exactly what most drivers want to avoid as winter weather approaches.
American roads crammed with cars sporting the same all-weather tires they took on summer vacation and filled with folks who expend the same amount of effort cleaning snow off their cars as they do wiping fog off the bathroom mirror after a shower can be treacherous once snow or ice enters the mix. Of the 6.3 million accidents the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says occur on U.S. roads each year, more than 1.5 million are weather related.
In states cold enough to let the flakes fall, snow and sleet account for 225,000 accidents, or 15% of weather-related crashes, each year. Roughly 70,900 people are injured in those crashes, while 870 are killed. Ice causes its fair share of problems on an annual basis, accounting for 190,000 accidents, 62,700 injuries and 680 deaths on American roads each year. Even slush is a lot less pleasant than its convenience-store treat name implies, killing 620 people each year and injuring another 47,700 in 168,300 accidents.
A super-sized SUV or your all-wheel-drive suburban soccer shuttle won't necessarily keep drivers safer, either. While ground clearance is certainly nice when drifts pile up in the driveway, and four-wheel drive comes in handy for pulling your car out of a plowed-in snowpile, they won't stop a car if it's skidding or keep it on the road in tight corners. Mark Cox, director of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, says winter driving safety has little to do with the Ford (F), Chevy (GM), Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC - Get Report) or Nissan (NSANY) drivers buy and everything to do with how a driver prepares for the season.With an emphasis on traction, vision and snow-covered street smarts, Cox shared five suggestions for preventing your car from becoming that flipped-over roadside mess that factors into seemingly every local television snow traffic story. Those plows didn't push all that snow to the sides of the road just so you could turn it into an impromptu parking space during rush hour: