Winter Accidents in Louisiana

When people think about dangerous winter weather, they generally think of the northern states – and for good reasons. With weather events described in terms of “snow hurricanes” and “thundersnow,” winter driving in the North can be a nightmare – both stressful and dangerous, especially for inexperienced drivers. However, while in the North inclement weather is common in the winter months, those drivers are generally prepared: they have driven in those conditions before and generally know what to expect.

Not so often down South, especially in a state like Louisiana, where the lowest average high is 62 degrees in January, the same month as the lowest average low, at 45 degrees, still a solid 12 degrees above the freezing point for water. Louisiana is a state where the winter months are drier than in the summer. It is a state where fog and rain usually take the place of snow and ice. Which is exactly why winter driving is more dangerous in Louisiana than states more accustomed to it – few things are as dangerous as an Interstate covered in ice and filled with drivers inexperienced with the conditions.

While winter weather in Louisiana is generally mild, there are exceptions. And with these exceptions come car accidents.

According to CNN, a winter storm pelted Texas and Louisiana in January 2014, causing Louisiana State Police to close I-10 at the Texas border because of ice and former Gov.  Bobby Jindal to declare a state of emergency. Ultimately, two people died because of the storm, and state offices in 38 parishes and schools in 37 were closed.

As recently as December 2017, a winter storm again caused chaos throughout the state. WGNO, an ABC-affiliated television news station based in New Orleans, stated that Louisiana State Police reported more than 40 accidents on the morning of Dec. 8 when a light snow fall was accompanied by freezing roads. The police suggested a majority of the accidents could have been avoided by simply slowing down.

Like the advice of the state troopers, most other steps to drive safely through inclement winter weather are common sense. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) offers several simple tips, especially for snow and ice, including:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly: This allows your vehicle to gain traction without spinning out.
  • Drive slowly: Speed increases the possibility of your tires losing contact with the road.
  • Leave more room: As it takes more room to stop, give extra room for vehicles in front of you.
  • Don’t power up hills: Accelerating up hill loses traction; using inertia and accelerating slowly allows the vehicle to keep traction.
  • Stay home: Statistics show the danger of an accident increases during inclement weather of any type, whether it is rain, fog, snow, ice or wind, and the safety of you and your loved ones is not worth risking by taking unnecessary chances.

While harsh winter weather in Louisiana is rare, that only adds to its danger when it does arrive. Inexperience and bad road conditions can be a deadly combination, not just in Louisiana but all over the South. Of all the advice for people forced to drive in inclement weather, the Louisiana State Police have the best: slow down.