Looking to get caught up as we move forward in the new year:
• We finally have gotten our first real taste of wintry weather and, when all things are considered, it didn’t add up to much at all. Our region has been fortunate to have been able to avoid a great deal of the bad weather that has hit many locations out west as well as along the east coast.
It’s likely we will get at least one significant snowfall between now and the start of spring, and with that knowledge comes a sobering reminder to anyone who drives that 46 percent of all crashes involving bad weather happen in the winter. That’s according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While there are varied reasons behind the crashes, AAA East Central, which services the Tri-State Area, said winter storms, other bad weather and sloppy road conditions have a hand in nearly 500,000 crashes each year that lead to around 2,000 deaths. From snow-covered roads to black ice, there’s a lot for drivers to be mindful of, said Lori Cook, the organization’s safety adviser.
The easiest way to avoid a crash? Simply stay home — if you’re not on the road, you can’t be involved in an accident. The other tips make a lot of sense, and they include slowing down, stifling the urge to tailgate and remembering to not use cruise control when you are driving in bad weather.
Some things to remember when we finally get hit with the snow and ice that we associate with the winter season during the next several months.
• But let’s say you do get into accident. It will cost a lot to get your vehicles repaired, Jonathon King, vice president of insurance sales for AAA East Central.
Rear-end accidents and fender-benders can cost more than $7,000 in damages and cause insurance premiums to go up, he explained. Distracted driving played a role in many of those crashes in 2021, he explained, adding that rear-end fender-benders accounted for 15 percent of all of AAA’s insurance claims.
Accidents that happen while backing up, meanwhile, can lead to average damages of more than $1,800 and made up 12 percent of insurance claims processed by AAA last year. Many of those crashes, AAA reports, came while motorists were backing out of a driveway or in parking lots. Newer cars make it easier for these types of collisions to be avoided — just about every new car comes with a back-up camera and sensors that alert drivers when something is behind them and to the sides of them, and a great number or vehicles can actually stop themselves when they detect something isn’t right.
That technology is impressive, but it can’t take the place of knowing what’s around your car and paying attention while you are backing up.
The third-most common claims in the region, AAA adds, can be traced to accidents involving animals — 8 percent of the claims, in fact, and each carries an average damage cost of $4,100.
Just more things to think about when we hit the road.
• Speaking of taking to the road, Ohio is ranked as the 24th growth state in 2021, according to numbers compiled for U-Haul’s annual growth index.
People coming into Ohio using one-way truck rentals grew by 11 percent, the company reported, while the numbers for people leaving the state increased by 13 percent. It was all part of the surge in overall moving traffic, U-Haul reported.
This year’s ranking marked a big change for Ohio, which had stood at No. 4 the previous year.
That drop was shared throughout our Tri-State Area — West Virginia dropped to 26th in 2021 from 16th in 2020, while Pennsylvania fell to 48th from 41st.
Topping this year’s list is Texas, which was second in 2021; Florida, which was third in 2021; Tennessee, which was first in 2021; South Carolina, which was 15th in 2021; and Arizona, which was fifth.
California was again rated 50th, while Illinois again came in at 49th.
The numbers, U-Haul explained, were compiled from more than 2 million one-way truck transactions.
No matter where we live, it seems like we’re always surrounded by numbers, and the many surveys that are out there at least provide a starting point for things to think about.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)